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Howie Hawkins corners Andrew Cuomo on debates, plans 3 in Upstate NY
Syracuse Post-Standard: October 3, 2018
by Mark Weiner
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for governor, says he's planning a series of four debates with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in every region of the state - including Syracuse - after the governor asked if he would organize the events.
Hawkins, of Syracuse, said he's taking Cuomo's off-the-cuff remarks about debates seriously after the two talked backstage Saturday at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City.
Hawkins, making his third bid for governor, said he ran into Cuomo as the governor was preparing to address the annual festival in Central Park that's dedicated to fighting global poverty.
"I said, 'Hi, governor. I'm looking forward to our debates,'" Hawkins said. "He looked a little concerned and said, 'What debates?' And then he asked, 'Are you going to organize them?'"
Since the five candidates for governor have not agreed on any debates, Hawkins said he decided to take on the task of organizing the events.
Hawkins told the editorial board of Syracuse.com and The Post-Standard that he is proposing four regional debates -- one each in the New York City metropolitan area, the Capital District, Central New York and Western New York.
Each debate would focus on a specific topic, Hawkins said. He has proposed focusing on the economy, government reform, the environment and climate, and social policy. The latter would cover education, health care, criminal justice and civil rights.
Cuomo's campaign did not respond to requests for comment about the proposal. No debates are scheduled before the Nov. 6 election.
Republican Marc Molinaro has challenged Cuomo to one-on-one debates without the other candidates. On Wednesday, Molinaro accused Cuomo of "ducking one-on-one debates."
Hawkins said he will move forward with his attempt to organize the debates, even if that means Cuomo and Molinaro won't attend.
"We're running out of time," Hawkins said. "We have five weeks left. To do four debates would be quite a feat."