HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - Carl Paladino and Andrew Cuomo, two of New York's gubernatorial candidates, both vowed to reduce taxes, spending and government corruption during a debate Monday night.
The seven-way debate -- the first and perhaps only one to take place before the Nov. 2 election -- at Hofstra University was 90 minutes of "political theater verging on farce," as Nicholas Confessore of The New York Times described it.
The debate's format gave only a minute or so for answers, even less time for rebuttals and there was virtually no direct exchange between Paladino and Cuomo. Often, their responses were interrupted by those of Jimmy McMillan, the fiery candidate for the Rent Is Too Damn High Party.
However, both Cuomo, the Democrat and state's attorney general, and Paladino, his GOP rival and Buffalo real estate developer, each said they were best able to fix New York's current economic state.
"We just have too many governments in the state of New York, 10,500 governments," Cuomo said. "Town, village, water district, sewer district, you have to consolidate those governments. We just can't afford them anymore."
Paladino pledged to cut fraud and waste in Medicaid and told the crowd he would "dismember" the New York's education department to abolish the programs it imposes on local school districts.
Still, neither candidate chose to directly criticize each other or engage in any personal attacks of recent weeks.
In addition to Paladino, Cuomo and McMillan, the debate also featured Anti-Prohibition Party candidate and former prostitution madam Kristin Davis, Freedom Party candidate Charles Barron, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, and Libertarian candidate Warren Redlich.
Davis, connected with the resignation of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, said the state could raise $1.5 million by taxing legalized marijuana sales and another $2 billion if it legalized casino gambling.
At one point, she said her escort service was better run than the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Meanwhile, both Barron, a New York City council member, and Hawkins, of Syracuse, called for higher taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of state residents.
Barron, at one point, described Cuomo as being "the king of layoffs."
"You vote for him, your job will be gone. Your pension is gone. Your health care is gone," he said.
Redlich, an Albany attorney, said "government waste" was responsible for high taxes.
Cuomo is currently ahead in the polls, with a double-digit lead over Paladino.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at email@example.com.