Everything You Need to Know About Tonight’s Gubernatorial Debate

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Top: Cuomo and Paladino. Bottom, from left to right: Kristin Davis, Jimmy McMillan, Warren Redlich, Howie Hawkins, and Charles Barron. Photo: Cuomo, Spencer Platt/Getty Images; Paladino, Neilson Barnard/Getty Images; Davis, Michael Stewart/WireImage; McMillan, www.rentistoodamnhigh.org; Redlich, www.wredlich.com/; Hawkins, www.howiehawkins.com; Barron, Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Where and when is the gubernatorial debate tonight?
7 p.m. at Hofstra University. You can watch on NY1 or News 12.

The Yankees game is on at 8 p.m.; shouldn't I focus my post-work time on getting my buzz on and praying to the ghost of George Steinbrenner? After all, this debate will probably be boring, like every other debate.
That's where you're wrong, friend. This debate should actually be pretty fun to watch. Some people are even calling it "one of the most anticipated moments of political theater in recent New York history." You've heard of an angry, filter-free guy running for governor named Carl Paladino? He'll be there, and since he's trailing Cuomo by 35 points in the latest poll, he'll need a game-changer.

My interest is slightly piqued, but still, if it's just going to be Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino up there giving long speeches ...
It won't be! Five other candidates for governor will be there, too, and they'll be given equal time.

Do any of these other candidates have any chance of winning?
Nope!

Oh,okay. But just so I know what's going on when I'm watching, who are they?
Jimmy McMillan, Howie Hawkins, Charles Barron, Warren Redlich, and Kristin Davis.

Wait, Kristin Davis, isn't she the madam who claims to have provided Eliot Spitzer with prostitutes and spent four months at Rikers?
The very same. She's running on the Anti-Prohibition Party line, a party she created this year.

I was under the impression that Prohibition ended 80 years ago ...
It did, for alcohol. The name refers to prostitution and marijuana, both of which Davis wants to legalize, regulate, and tax.

How is she preparing for the debate?
"I'm working out, doing my nails, doing my hair," she tells the Buffalo News.

Is she the only libertarian in the debate?
Nope, there's also Libertarian Party nominee Warren Redlich, an Albany personal-injury and criminal-defense lawyer. He ran for Congress in 2004 and 2006, but lost.

So what's his deal?
He's campaigning on the motto "Stop Wasting Our Money," and proposes capping public-sector salaries at $100,000 a year and eliminating various state agencies such as the Thruway Authority, the Division of Human Rights, and the Office of Homeland Security.

Did he also make a video parodying the Paladino-Dicker spat in which he shows photos of his own duodenum?
Yes.

Okay, moving on. Which of these "other" candidates is going to be hardest on Andrew Cuomo?
Probably Charles Barron, a Democrat serving in the City Council representing East New York and Brownsville. After Cuomo picked a white man to be his running mate even with zero blacks running on the Democratic slate this year for any statewide office, Barron felt that the Democrats were taking the black vote for granted and created his own "Freedom Party."

Which candidate is most likely to talk about issues regarding rent and the prices thereof?
Most likely Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party. The perennial candidate believes that high rent prices are the root of all our economic problems, and he tells us that he'll try to respond to every question, regardless of the topic, with an answer related to rent.

There's also usually a Green in there somewhere.
That's right. This year it's Howie Hawkins, who is actually one of the co-founders of the Green Party. He ran against Hillary Clinton for Senate in 2006, receiving 1.2 percent of the vote, and his platform calls for "universal single-payer health care, fully funded public schools, tuition-free SUNY and CUNY, building a carbon-free clean energy system — all paid for by restoring progressive tax rates on Wall Street and the rich." He plans to present this as a "prosperity plan" tonight in contrast to the austerity plans being proposed by other candidates.

Is Cuomo sweating these guys?
Kind of! According to the Times he's taking the debate very seriously, spending "hours with his policy team devising answers to questions that the moderators might ask." He's even "sought intelligence on whether the other candidates were coordinating and how they planned to attack him."

But he'll probably play it straight and safe.
Probably. It's how he's run his entire front-running campaign, though, reportedly, "[s]ome of Mr. Cuomo’s aides believe that New Yorkers will want to see Mr. Cuomo show a fighting spirit and lay into Mr. Paladino over his remarks about sexual orientation, abortion and people who receive public assistance."

How is Paladino preparing?
He's reportedly consulted with Jeanine Pirro, who debated Cuomo during the 2006 race for attorney general.

Is he going to do something nuts, like release the proof he claims to have about Andrew Cuomo's affairs?
You never know with him, but Paladino's campaign manager tells the Times that they see "the debate as an opportunity for him to reintroduce himself to skeptical voters and, perhaps, surprise them with his grasp of substantive issues," so it seems as if he might embrace this opportunity to appear like a serious person to voters, for once.

Aw.
We know.