Astorino, Hawkins Call for Debates In NY Gov Race

ALBANY (AP) -

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s two main election rivals repeated their call for debates Friday — though they disagree on who should participate.

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins said on Friday that he should be included in debates along with Cuomo and the Republican candidate, Westchester County executive Rob Astorino. He pointed to recent Siena College polls in two congressional districts that show he’s gaining ground.

“We shouldn’t limit debates to the candidates of the wealthy and special interests,” Hawkins said. “By any reasonable fair and objective criteria, I should be included in debates.”

Astorino has proposed a series of eight debates against Cuomo. He has said third-party candidates shouldn’t be permitted since watchers lose focus of the issues. On Friday he called the race “a two-horse race.”

“Governor Cuomo is hinting he may show up [for a debate], but hinting is not enough,” Astorino said. “The taxpayers need a commitment. He would love to let the clock run out, so we must keep the pressure on and demand not just one, but eight debates between now and the election.”

Cuomo told reporters on Wednesday that “I believe we will have debates” but said he’d leave it to the campaigns to work out the details.

Hawkins said Cuomo’s closer-than-expected primary win shows voters want another alternative.