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Gov. Cuomo agrees to radio debate; opponent Molinaro still wants it televised

Dutchess County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc

Dutchess County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro, left, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will debate on WCBS at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Credit: AP

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his Republican challenger, Marc Molinaro, engaged in more saber-rattling Sunday as the governor accepted a live, in-person radio debate to be broadcast Tuesday morning and streamed online.

But Molinaro, who wanted a televised debate, told Cuomo to "stop hiding."

Also Sunday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) agreed to debate her Republican challenger, Chele Farley, on Thursday after backing out of a face-off that had been set for Sunday.

The Cuomo campaign on Sunday circulated a message on Twitter from WCBS, indicating the radio station would sponsor a live radio debate between Molinaro and Cuomo Tuesday at 10 a.m. The debate will be videotaped and streamed live on Facebook and the station's website, according to the statement. Video will be shared with other media outlets who can publish it, according to the statement. 

Molinaro said in a statement Sunday, "Andrew Cuomo is again misleading New Yorkers and is unwilling to agree to a real debate that will give an opportunity for all New Yorkers to participate. This has now devolved into a sad statement for our state and democracy. Stop the mockery and debate me in front of all voters.  Stop hiding!"

It was the latest twist in a testy back-and-forth between the Democratic governor and Dutchess county executive over debate terms. On Friday, Cuomo said he would debate Molinaro Saturday morning on WCBS at 8 a.m., but without television cameras.

Molinaro said not to televise the debate live and so early Saturday morning with little notice to the public was a "staged fraud on the taxpayers of New York.”

Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said Sunday, " As WCBS880 has now met all of Mr. Molinaro’s demands, we accept and expect him to be there."

As for the Senate race, WABC-TV will host the debate at its Manhattan studio at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. It will be livestreamed and then broadcast on WABC-TV affiliates statewide at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Gillibrand on Friday night had canceled a debate scheduled for Sunday night at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, citing her support for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3 members striking against the event sponsor’s parent company, Charter Communications. It would have aired on NY1 and Spectrum stations around the state.

Gillibrand had said she would not cross “a de facto picket line.” Farley, a Manhattan former financier, had said her rival had “chickened out.”

Gillibrand spokesman Glen Caplin in a statement Sunday said that with Thursday’s debate on “Up Close with Bill Ritter,” “we will be able to both stand in solidarity with the 1,800 members of IBEW who went on strike for fair pay and benefits and provide New Yorkers with the opportunity they deserve to hear from both candidates.”

Farley in a statement Sunday also stressed that voters deserve hear from their candidates side-by-side. She said Gillibrand had caved to pressure and been “forced into taking a break from the 2020 presidential campaign trail to return to New York as she runs for re-election.”

Gillibrand is leading Farley by 25 percentage points in the race, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday. Gillibrand’s campaign had raised $20.1 million as of Sept. 30 compared to the Farley campaign’s $1.2 million, according to federal records.

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