More Media Reactions to 7-party New York Gubernatorial Debate, and Kimberly Wilder’s eyewitness account

Seven candidates for Governor of New York, including the leading candidates, debated last night. For previous IPR articles see NY Governor Debate: Minor Party Candidates Steal The Show and In NY: Six Way Governor Debate Announced (Paladino’s participation was not confirmed at that time).

The Daily News has a poll, and the current results are:

Who fared best during Monday night’s debate?

Andrew Cuomo 36%
Carl Paladino 16%
Jimmy McMillan 20%
Kristin Davis 5%
Warren Redlich 6%
Charles Barron 1%
Howie Hawkins 1%
I didn’t watch 14%

The article that the poll is attached to, by Bill Hammond, makes a case for less inclusive debates, but concludes

New Yorkers deserve better. Before Election Day, they need a one-on-one showdown between the two most serious candidates.

Cuomo and Redlich, that is.

The NY Times live blog manages to mention everyone except Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.

A few highlights from their coverage:

…Mr. Cuomo appeared to emerge relatively intact from this encounter. He sat comfortably in his seat and spoke with a commanding tone, showcasing a demeanor that seemed above and more gubernatorial than the other candidates onstage. Only Mr. Redlich, the Libertarian, rivaled him in confidence, although Ms. Davis seemed to win fans with her well-rehearsed responses and well-timed comparisons of government to a whorehouse…..

What will the candidates do about mass transit, and the higher fares and service cuts enacted this year by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority?

Ms. Davis starts off with a killer: “The key difference between the M.T.A. and my former escort agency is I operated one set of books, and I offered on-time and reliable service.” Huge laughter and applause from the audience. (For the record, the M.T.A. has never been proved to have two sets of books.)

Mr. Barron tells viewers not to be scared of voting for a candidate other than Mr. Cuomo, lest Mr. Paladino take the lead. “That boogie man is played out.” he says.

A lightning-round question on gay marriage. Mr. Paladino starts to give a longer answer — “Gay marriage is an issue, it’s very important to the people” — until he is interrupted by the moderator.

Moderator: “I need a five-second answer. I apologize.”

Paladino: “What?”

Moderator: “A yes or no answer, please?”

Paladino: “I do not support gay marriage.”

Cuomo says ‘yes’ to gay marriage.

Mr. McMillan: “The Rent Is Too Damn High Party feels if you want to marry a shoe, I’ll marry you.”

Warren Redlich, the Libertarian candidate, has offered the most articulate responses, throwing in a few jabs at Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Paladino and adding a populist touch by citing names of New Yorkers who could benefit from overhauled spending policies.

There is speculation that Kristin Davis may be reading her responses from a script. Her cadence has a rehearsed quality, something akin to a student council candidate addressing the high school gym.

Ms. Davis gets in the first personal dig of the night, saying that if Albany passes a stock transfer tax, “Businesses will leave the state faster than Carl Paladino at a gay bar.” Big laughter from the audience.

Kimberly Wilder’s review of the debate at OnTheWilderSide:

Kimberly and Ian Wilder at the Hofstra debate 10/18/2010


Kimberly writes:

So, I was able to attend the debate as a friend of the Green Party. I was sitting in the special seating on the ground floor. Though, in the last row (right in front of the stand for the still photographers.)

Some impressions:

It was all very exciting. The moderators were Doug Geed and Joye Brown. Ms. Brown received an extra measure of applause – I think because she is a very progressive-minded columnist. Both moderators did an excellent job.

Even the order that the candidates sat was interesting and seemed noteworthy. The order on stage was:

Paladino – McMillan – Cuomo – Barron – Hawkins – Kristin Davis – Redlich


You might want to study the order yourself, as we did as the stage was being set up, and think about any ramifications and interesting combinations. Some that we noticed (I attended with my husband, and sat with a group of greens): Rich landlord Carl Paladino was seated next to Jimmy McMillan of the “Rent is Too Damn High” Party (though, McMillan never capitalized on his proximity to Paladino, perhaps because McMillan knew exactly what he wanted to say and didn’t want to slow down for a pointed question?).

Charles Barron of the Freedom Party was next to, and before in order, Howie Hawkins. Some Green Party leaders were worried that Barron’s position would allow him to take all Howie’s points first and steal Howie’s thunder. And, that did happen to some extent. Though, Hawkins had enough to say, and enough passion to stick out from the crowd, anyway. Green activists and the Green Party of NYS have been out front on stopping hydro-fracking. Barron has taken that position, and got to say it on stage before Howie.

I do believe that Warren Redlich was blushing, and his brow was sweating at the beginning, just due to his proximity to former Madam Kristin Davis. Ms. Davis showed herself to be Libertarian-minded on many issues, and it was interesting that Warren Redlich did not affirm their agreement too much.

Note that Carl Paladino and Andrew Cuomo were not next to each other. That fact allowed for a certain sense of relief. It would be much harder to have sharp words or direct sparring between the two. Actually, Paladino was on super-good behavior for the evening. My impression was mostly that he was calmer. Though, my husband thought he also seemed a little befuddled. Paladino did stumble a bit on his explanations a couple of times.

It was interesting to me that Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat, was between the two African American candidates. (It was only the pick of the draw, remember, that created this order.) I think that put some tension on Cuomo, who is a more conservative Democrat than most of the African American community would probably appreciate. In addition, Charles Barron said he was running specifically as a protest candidate to Cuomo and the all-white Democratic slate. And, it was powerful that Charles Barron was directly next to Cuomo to point his finger and criticisms.

Of note, too, is that Charles Barron took the time to go over to Jimmy McMillan and give him a hug.

Jimmy McMillan is some character. As you know if you watched the debate, he was somewhat repetitious with his party name/slogan, and also dramatic, so much so that at one point the whole audience chanted “Rent is too damnnnnn high”, just like he says it. I suppose he is a charismatic leader in some ways. Though, most people did not seem serious about him as a candidate.

Another interesting part of the opening when the stage was set was that Carl Paladino and another candidate or two were seated before Cuomo took the stage. Seasoned politician that he is, Cuomo was the first one to remember to go over to the moderator’s table and greet and shake hands with the media. (My husband Ian noticed that bit of protocol.)

Who won?

I think Carl Paladino gained some points by having good behavior and putting out one or two good ideas. But, that is only a few more points added to his very low standing with the public right now.

Jimmy McMillan won for making people pay attention to his issue. No matter what can be said of him, he got the whole audience to chant his message. I also believe that having McMillan say his piece on stage did remind people about the poor, hungry and out of work.

A Democratic friend of mine said that after seeing it, she would vote for either Charles Barron or Howie Hawkins. I think that Barron and Hawkins supported the best policies and had the best things to say. At one point, Howie Hawkins was explaining IRV, and he said that if he could vote IRV, he would vote for himself first, Barron second, and Redlich third.

A family member of mine said that Redlich stood out the most to her. I do like Libertarian thinking on some issues. And, Redlich presented some thought-provoking points. He was also good at remembering to explain his biography in a way that let people connect with him.

Kristin Davis got a few laughs and a few good lines in. Her answers revealed a Libertarian streak I did not know she had. I did not admire her stand on hydro-fracking (she supports it) and some economic issues. I think it was interesting that she never said that one of her issues was to legalize prostitution, though that is a big issue on her website. It seemed politically cowardly of her not to say it at the debate.

I suppose if you add up the figures and statistics, it may be Andrew Cuomo who “won”, by being the front-runner who did okay, and did not make any big mistakes. Though, putting him on the stage made him admit in front of all the progressives, Green Party members, and Freedom Party members that he wants to cut taxes and cut services. Cuomo says he wants to get tough on “waste, fraud and abuse”. Though, I believe that A. “waste” is a lot less onerous than fraud and abuse and B. What Cuomo calls “waste”, some of us might call the collective’s duty to the poor.

It was interesting, when we came out of the debate hall a reporter questioned one of my friends. He asked her which candidate she thought won, Cuomo or Paladino. My friend tried to say that she thought that neither did spectacularly good or bad, but that the third party candidates made it interesting, and were able to present solutions that were “out of the box”. The reporter pressed her to choose between the front-runners. He finally said, “So, if you had to bet, would you bet on Cuomo or Paladino.” I found his line of questioning to be childish and unethical. And, I thought it was funny that he was talking in terms of gambling. Because, choosing between a Democrat who wants to cut taxes and services and a Republican who wants to cut taxes and services seems like a choice as empty and unpromising as gambling.

I thought there was something about Cuomo that seemed kind of languid and over-comfortable, like royalty deigning to be among the common people. His posture and attitude really rubbed me the wrong way. I also thought it was telling when Cuomo said that he hears the most complaints about property taxes, so he finds them the most oppressive of taxes. To me, that just means that he is mostly hanging around and mostly listening to people who are homeowners. And, that is all well and good, but there are large swathes of people who will never be in that category to own a home, or to have the Governor’s ear. Cuomo’s comment seemed telling to me about how he is lucky enough to swim in a world of class privilege and white privilege.

I wonder if Cuomo was moved by listening to Jimmy McMillan, and thinking about the people McMillan lives around, who are jobless, hungry, and needing their rent to be lowered.

And, a special note: Hydro-fracking is a big deal, and something for New Yorkers to think about it. I felt really bad that with the certain timelines and order, and one candidates sly explanation of it, it may not be clear to people that hydro-fracking involves shooting CHEMICAL-LACED water into the shale to extract natural gas. It is not just water, it is water with chemicals. And, that can’t be good for our environment, our water supply, or our health. Carl Paladino, Kristin Davis, and Warren Redlich all seemed to support it to some extent. Andrew Cuomo is playing the politicians trick of saying that we should “study it first”. Howie Hawkins and Charles Barron both made bold statements against hydro-fracking.


18 thoughts on “More Media Reactions to 7-party New York Gubernatorial Debate, and Kimberly Wilder’s eyewitness account

  1. Jeff

    While I admit some of the minor party candidates were entertaining in their appearance or method of speaking, their messages were as serious and valid as any other on that stage.

    To summarize the below, Warren Redlich stole the show in context of actually answering questions completely, intelligently, and in time. He’s earned my vote!

    I had never heard of most of those candidates until last night, but it was refreshing to hear some real discussion.

    I had hopes for Paladino, but he failed to deliver by stuttering and messing up his words the entire night, not to mention he failed in almost every attempt to answer a question anywhere near completion in the time allowed. And of course, he is anti-gay marriage.

    McMillan, or the Rent is Too Damn High guy, made a valid argument. Our taxes are TOO DAMN HIGH. All the other candidates were saying the same thing, but simply used other words, except Cuomo who quoted Jimmie saying “I agree with Jimmie, the rent IS too damn high.” McMillan made a good point and if looking a little different gets him noticed so that people become aware of a problem and actually discuss it, then more power to him.

    Cuomo was a joke for most of it. He sat there with a smug look as if to say in body language, “I’ve already won this. I’m just here to laugh at the other characters and smile so you know my name and face.” He continually tip-toed around answering questions by rattling off statistics and making claims about how bad things are, but rarely did he introduce details about what he would do to fix things. The best answer I recall him making was with regards to corruption in government and how he would hold people accountable for breaking the law. The rest was vague answers like saying that he would cut spending… but now WHAT he would cut.

    Barron I think was a little too focused on “giving back” to the black community. While I am not in a position to say whether his message had substance, I can only imagine that it did or he wouldn’t have as many supporters as he does. He got a lot of applause during the debate. I think his downfall was that he came short when talking about other issues.

    Howie Hawkins was a true possibility. He addressed every question with a complete answer. Notably, he repeated his support of a progressive tax system which surmounts to taxing the wealthy more to alleviate the taxes of the poor. I need to learn more about Howie, though I don’t think I’ll be voting for him this time around. I expect him to be a contender in the future, however.

    Kristin Davis, history aside, was straight and to the point. Her clear plan to raise revenue (which would help cut taxes) was to do the obvious no-brainer and legalize marijuana (a 100% non-violent crime) and legalize gambling. I forget exactly how much money she said it would raise, but I think her figure was somewhere around $3,000,000,000. That’s a lot of zeros!

    And last but not least is Warren Redlich. This man coming out of nowhere presented a complete plan and supports gay marriage! He will not only cut spending and lower taxes, but he told us HOW he will do it. In short, he’s going to end the thruway tolls which were set up to pay for the thruway which has long been finished paying for. He’s also going to eliminate a large percentage of wasteful and redundant government agencies. And, in his answer to the very first question, he said he will cap beurocrat salaries and pensions at $100k and $75k respectively, as there are something like 110,000 beurocrats in NY earning over $100k/year, and something like 50,000 making over $200k/year. Other minor party candidates agree with Warren’s plan, but neither Cuomo nor Paladino commented on it, nor did either say what they would do instead. Warren’s plan can be put into action today and we’ll start saving close to 5 Billion dollars instantly! I think Cuomo mentioned something about a plan to investigate agencies over the next 5 years to see which ones could be cut. 5 YEARS!!! Is he serious? NY needs a plan NOW.

    After last night’s debate, I think it’s clear who I’ll be voting for. You can learn more about Warren Redlich, the Libertarian candidate for governor on his campaign website or check out his Facebook page to see all of us former Paladino or Cuomo supporters who have after last night’s debate done a 180 and now support Redlich fulheartedly!

  2. Kimberly Wilder


    I used to be enrolled Green, and I live with a Green Party member. So, pardon my bias.


    Howie Hawkins’ debate performance does not match his full talent and skill as a thinker and politician. He could have done better. Also, warming up to people is not his style.

    So, I think Howie rates as one of the best candidates on the podium last night.


    It is funny that you say that Hawkins’ has future potential, since the media has noted, he is a perennial candidate. I think this may be his 18th run for office!

    Kimberly Wilder

  3. joe_bob

    I agree with Kimberly about HH. He is not the best in interacting with people face to face. He comes off as distant and strange in person. He is a great thinker and has great positions on issues, probably the best out of all of the candidates, but he definitely is handicapped by the fact that he has run about 18 times. Hawkins and others need to train the next generation of Left leaders instead of running themselves over and over again. This is not only a problem with HH and the NY Greens but with the US Left in general.

    McMillan gave a great performance. He showed that what we want and articulating it is not hard. I know that there is not depth to his platform, but he would be better than D or R. If I lived in NY, I probably would vote for him.

  4. paulie Post author

    d. eris at poli-tea:

    Last night was the first, and likely last, debate featuring all seven ballot-qualified gubernatorial candidates in the state of New York.  In addition to the shills of the Democratic and Republican parties, many New Yorkers got their first look at Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, Libertarian Warren Redlich, Kristin Davis of the Anti-Prohibition Party, Charles Barron of the Freedom Party, and Jimmy McMillan, running on the Rent is Too Damn High ballot line.  McMillan is today widely seen as having stolen the show with his eccentric style and animated delivery. 

    Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino perfectly embody everything that is wrong with the two-party state and duopoly system of government.  Cuomo is a professional politician, and, as son of former governor Mario Cumo, a representative of the hereditary ruling class that is being bred by the Democratic-Republican party establishment.  Paladino is a multi-millionaire and lifelong Democrat who changed his affiliation to the Republican party just a few years ago, likely in preparation for his campaign to purchase the GOP’s nomination for governor.  On stage with the five other gubernatorial candidates, long-time grassroots political activists, a businessman and a former madam, Cuomo resembled nothing so much as the proverbial used car salesman, and Paladino a broken man.

    The presence of the Green and Libertarian candidates, Howie Hawkins and Warren Redlich, revealed just how superficial the opposition is between the Democrat and the Republican.  If you support  Democrats because you still believe the myth that they stand for the interests of the middle and working class, that they provide a viable opposition to Republicans, that they stand for social values and justice, there is no question that you should vote for Howie Hawkins (or Charles Barron of the Freedom Party, for that matter).  As noted by the Daily Caller, Cuomo did his best to “distance himself from the progressive, Democrat agenda.”  On the other hand, if you support Republicans because you still believe the myth that they are opponents of big government, that they stand for individual rights and liberties, and that they provide a viable opposition to the Democrats, there is no question that you should cast your ballot for Warren Redlich.  

    As noted above, it was Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is Too Damn High party who stole the show at the debate.  With his strong stage presence and eccentric style – an elaborate beard, black gloves, etc. – McMillan was an unforgettable figure.  And with his fast paced delivery, he likely was able to speak twice as many words, if not more, than his rivals in the small amounts of time allotted by the debate moderators.  As for his plan, McMillan stated that, if he is elected governor, he will declare an economic state of emergency in New York, and provide immediate relief to renters across the state, with an emphasis on small businesses and parents, in order to help put “money in your pocket and food on the table.”

    In its coverage of the debate, the headline at the New York Times reads: “Albany Governor Debate Verges on Farce.”  As the political establishment’s official paper of record, the NYT obviously bristled at the idea that anyone other than the Democratic and Republican party candidates would be included in the forum.  Yet the real farce in US politics today is most clearly apparent in the delusion that the sham opposition between Republicans and Democrats provides the people of the United States with a choice of candidates capable of representing the people’s interests in government, rather than those of corporatist demagogues or the hereditary ruling class.

  5. paulie Post author

    By Jeremy Moule

    The media coverage of last night’s gubernatorial debate is focusing on the performance of Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino, with a side of Jimmy McMillan (the Rent is Too Damn High guy).

    That’s a shame because Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Libertarian Party candidate Warren Redlich did a really good job. They were concise, engaging, and made some important points.

    I’ll start with Redlich. When he was asked for his position on a property tax cap, he dismissed the idea. A tax cap looks at the wrong side of the government’s financial problems, he said. It’s spending that needs to be addressed, he said. That matches perfectly with the concerns of some state school districts and local governments. They fear they’ll be forced to limit tax increases without any corresponding reduction in their responsibilities.

    Hawkins injected some strong progressive arguments into the debates. He said the stock transfer tax should be reinstated, which would help address the state’s budget gap. He also said New York needs a state-owned bank to help out small businesses. Instead of a property tax cap, the state should take over Medicaid entirely, which would reduce local property taxes, he said. A true progressive income tax would lift some of the burden off of the lower and middle classes and spread it among the wealthy.

    These ideas may not be popular with the political middle, but they can certainly serve to start a conversation. Third-party candidates often get the major party candidates to address and discuss issues they’d otherwise leave alone. But their voices have been absent this election season, most likely because the coverage is being driven by Paladino. Last night’s debate gave New Yorkers a glimpse of what they’ve been missing.

  6. Catholic Trotskyist

    The Catholic Trotskyist Party of America would like to endorse Andrew Cuomo. I met Cuomo’s father several times when I was a young child; he was a good man. Howie Hawkins is a despicable criminal, Barrone is misguided, and we hope Redlich and Davis will mostly take votes from Paladino because of Davis’s conservative position on the mosque and Redlich’s libertarian economic position. We also secondarily endorse Jimmy McMillan, and hope that the Catholic Trotskyist Party and the Rent Is Too Damn High Party can work together in the future.

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