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Cuomo, Hochul avoid rivals, by inches

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, his pick for

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, his pick for Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney march in the 2014 NYC Labor Day Parade along 5th Ave. in Manhattan on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, avoided acknowledging their Democratic primary rivals Saturday as the underdog candidates stood inches away, trying to greet them, at a labor parade in Manhattan.

In the weeks leading up to Tuesday's Democratic primary, Cuomo has ignored Zephyr Teachout and her running mate for lieutenant governor, Tim Wu -- not mentioning the more liberal candidates by name and rejecting all requests for a primary debate.

The encounter took place before the start of the New York City Central Labor Council Parade on Fifth Avenue.

Teachout, a Fordham University law professor, approached Cuomo and Hochul as they stood with union leaders and other public officials. She circled around Cuomo aides buffering the governor, seeking his attention, and at one point tapped Hochul on the shoulder saying "hi," according to a video of the exchange on the website New York True.

Cuomo and Hochul kept their backs turned, focusing their attention on an ally who was arriving at that moment.

"Where's Mayor Bill de Blasio? Where's the mayor when you need him?" Cuomo said.

Asked about Teachout later, Cuomo told reporters: "I don't -- I know she was at the parade, but, uh, I didn't get a chance to, uh, talk to her."

Teachout called Cuomo's behavior "weird" in a prepared statement, where she also took him to task over his role disbanding the Moreland Commission on public corruption.

"He's constantly hiding," she said. "He hides from the press to avoid questions about Moreland. . . and he literally hides behind his aides in public parades."

After the parade, Cuomo and Hochul headlined a rally for state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, who faces a Democratic primary challenge, at a temporarily shuttered shopping mall in Flushing. Security guards and Cuomo aides checked attendees to make sure they belonged. There were less than 100 people in the crowd.

Asked afterward about his infrequent campaign appearances, Cuomo, who is expected to win Tuesday, said, "What an election comes down to really at the end of the day is you're asking to be rehired for the job" and "the way I campaign is by doing my job."

Teachout and Wu held news conferences in front of the flagship New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, where they accepted the endorsement of economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, a de Blasio ally, and later called for increased funding for public libraries.

"In a Democratic primary election, it's passion and grassroots power that decides it, and our volunteers are out in full force," Teachout said when asked about competing against Cuomo's campaign ads.

Wu called the Cuomo-Hochul campaign's recent endorsement robocall by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton "a sign of desperation."

Hochul also met young immigrants without legal documentation at a Jackson Heights charter school, where she said she was "100 percent committed" to pass the state's version of the Dream Act, which would provide in-state tuition rates and scholarships to such youths. She declined to say whether she stood by past positions that favored turning over immigrants without legal status to authorities and opposing driver's licenses for them.

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