On Monday, Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino, along with five third-party candidates for governor, took the stage at Hofstra University for what may be the only debate of the New York gubernatorial race. The debate was probably one of the more colorful we'll see this year. Front-runners Cuomo and Paladino have already run campaigns verging on spectacle (particularly Paladino, with his garbage-scented fliers, anti-gay slurs and occasional threats of bodily harm), and their colleagues onstage included a former madam and a representative of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party. Here are a few of the highlights, as well as takeaways from the debate as a whole:
'If You Want to Marry a Shoe, I'll Marry You' This was Jimmy McMillan's response to a question posed to all seven candidates about their stance on gay marriage. McMillan, a Vietnam veteran who has twice run for mayor of New York City with the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, was the breakout star of Monday's debate, repeating his party's name-cum-platform several times and saying, at one point, "As a karate expert, I will not talk about anybody up here. Because our children have nowhere to go."
Former Madam Compares Politicians to Whores Kristin Davis, the onetime madam said to have provided ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer with escorts, said at one point that "the career politicians in Albany are the biggest whores in this state. I might be the only person sitting on this podium qualified to deal with them." Davis, the candidate of the Anti-Prohibition Party, got in a few more zingers during the evening, saying that "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," and joking that if a tax on stock transfers was passed, "businesses will leave the state faster than Carl Paladino at a gay bar."
Libertarian Disclaims Hookers, Nepotism Warren Redlich, of the Libertarian Party, took a moment to introduce himself: "My name's Warren Redlich. I'm not your typical New York politician. I've never been caught with a prostitute. My dad wasn't governor and I've never been convicted of a crime." Beyond these pointed barbs, Redlich is said to have comported himself well; Salon's Adam Hanft called him "wonky and strangely likable."
Paladino Wanders Off Stage to Find a Bathroom This happened during the closing statements. The most anyone has offered by way of explanation is the old chestnut quoted by Paladino's campaign manager, Michael Caputo: "When you gotta go, you gotta go."