Governor Cuomo disrespects NY voters and the LWV of NYS by ducking important debates, while a growing chorus of voices calls for his participation.
“Democracy is not meant to be efficient, it is meant to be fair.” –Mario Cuomo
But a growing chorus of nonpartisan and cross-partisan civic groups are calling on the Governor to participate in tonight’s debate at The College of Saint Rose, organized by the League of Women Voters of New York State.
In addition to the nearly 50 local chapters of the esteemed voter education organization and all four of Governor Cuomo’s challengers and their respective political parties, there is a rising call throughout New York State for his participation.
“Any elected official with such clear contempt for his constituents and the democratic process itself should be sent packing,” said Eli Beckerman, Open the Debates founder. “We fight hard for fair and inclusive debates, for more voices and better choices for voters. We finally get an inclusive debate organized by the League of Women Voters and the Governor can’t even bother to show up.”
Beckerman continued, “After months of dodging debates, and then coordinating a last-minute one-on-one debate with his Republican opponent, it is clear that Governor Cuomo does not hold the same esteem for the democratic process as his father did. Now the latest insult to New York voters and the hard-working staff and volunteers of the League of Women Voters of NYS is his refusal to participate. This in itself should be disqualifying for that job.”
Stephanie Miner, former Mayor of Syracuse and an independent candidate on the ballot for Governor, said, “Voters deserve to hear from all candidates for governor. We need robust debate and civil dialogue about the future of New York.”
Howie Hawkins, running for Governor as the Green Party candidate for the third time, turned up the volume against his establishment opponent, saying “Cuomo’s refusal to debate all his challengers is contemptuously disrespectful to the people of New York. We need mandatory open debates among all ballot-qualified candidates as part of a public campaign finance system.”
Larry Sharpe, Libertarian Party candidate for Governor, turned up the volume even louder in a tweet , “This is because he is a coward! Why would New York want such an afraid person as the Governor?? It’s time to look towards a NEW New York!”
Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who ran for Vice President in 2016 on the Libertarian Party ticket alongside former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, recently argued that “Virtually everyone in the United States is coming to the sad conclusion that the two-party monopoly of Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D.C., is choking off creative policy making, to the detriment of the country at large.”
Weld continued, “It is a truism in economics that competition produces more efficient results than monopoly, and the same goes for politics. So there is a way out of this mess, and that is the introduction of a principled, entrepreneurial third party to compete for votes with the R s and the Ds .”
Jill Stein, the Green Party Presidential candidate who was shut out of the televised debates in 2012 and 2016, said that “In 2016, over 75% of voters wanted to hear from all four presidential candidates. This likely contributed to 100 million Americans — largely poor, millennial, black and brown — not voting. They were denied the knowledge they had choices beyond the two establishment parties that have thrown them under the bus. Americans not only have a right to vote, we have a right to know who we can vote for. If Cuomo doesn’t participate in the LWV’s inclusive debate, he’s not worthy of representing the people of New York.”
In 2012, Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala were both handcuffed to a chair for showing up to the debate at Hofstra University, despite press invitations to speak on air.
“Debates are a fundamental part of the democratic process,” said Beckerman. “It says a lot that the Governor thinks he can just ride his high poll numbers into reelection without even bothering to show up.”
A petition on Change.org calling on Governor Cuomo to participate received over 200 signatures in one day at bit.ly/makecuomodebate.
The League of Women Voters of New York State expressed frustration in a press release yesterday that any candidate might skip out on a debate, especially in a state where voter turnout is so low.
The debate will take place from 6:00–7:30pm at The College of Saint Rose’s Touhey Forum, located in the Thelma P. Lally School of Education, 1009 Madison Avenue, Albany.
The debate will be livestreamed at the following links:
The League did not find a media sponsor, and is crowdfunding to cover the costs of getting this meaningful debate out to the public.