POLITICS
09/05/2014 03:12 pm ET Updated Sep 05, 2014

Andrew Cuomo: Debates Can Be 'A Disservice To Democracy'

With just four days until New York's gubernatorial primary, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and his running mate Kathy Hochul have yet to publicly acknowledge their most prominent Democratic challengers, Zephyr Teachout and her running mate Tim Wu -- beyond trying to have Teachout's name removed from the ballot, that is.

“I would like to challenge Kathy Hochul and Andrew Cuomo: say our names,” Wu said Thursday. “They seem to be unable to realize that we even exist.”

Cuomo has declined to participate in a debate with Teachout despite her repeated calls to do so. When asked what it says about his "respect for democracy," the governor claimed such open discussions can actually hinder the democratic process.

"I don’t think it has anything to do with democracy,” he told reporters Tuesday, according to the New York Times. “I think it has to do with individual campaigns. Sometimes you have debates; sometimes you don’t have debates. It depends on the campaign. It depends on the issues.”

“I’ve been in many debates that I think were a disservice to democracy," he added.

CBS New York suggests the governor may have been referring to the bizarre, seven-candidate gubernatorial debate of 2010, which included a former madam and made a viral star out of Jimmy McMillan and his Rent Is Too Damn High Party.

But as the New York Times editorial board points out, Cuomo's current stance is quite different from that of 2002, when he deemed debates as a "good, honest discussion on the issues.”

Cuomo appears to be trying to avoid shedding media attention on Teachout. The Fordham University law professor has gained increasing coverage and endorsements in the past few weeks, though the governor is expected to easily win both the primary and general election.

On Thursday, without Cuomo's participation, Teachout debated Republican challenger Rob Astorino during an appearance on WNYC. Both candidates slammed the governor for his refusal to participate.

“You’re listening to two people who disagree but are principled,” Astorino said. “Andrew Cuomo stands for nothing — we may disagree on how to get there, but at least we’re principled in our opinions.”

To hear their debate, listen below:

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