New York Governor Debate Liveblog

Welcome to the our Liveblog of the New York Gubernatorial Debate.

We will be updating this post as the night goes on, so please keep checking back.

Twitter Roundup

Rob Astorino did seem to lay out an agenda

temper temper

Clear distinctions were made:

9:12 Statement from the Cuomo Campaign. (he got suuuuper red)

In a Debate Astorino Needed to Win, He Fell Way Short & Lost His Cool

Tonight’s debate was a flop for Rob Astorino. The Republican candidate has been trailing the Governor by double digits throughout this race and needed to use the debate platform to make his case. Instead, he spent the better part of the night defending his awful record on race, choice, taxes and other important issues. The Governor set the terms of this debate and Astorino was on defense the entire night.

Highlights of the night included:

Astorino looking embarrassed over being called out on his record on race, choice and immigration and then unraveling on camera as he tried to explain his views.

On taxes, Astorino got called out for promising to cut taxes but overseeing a county that has the highest property taxes in the nation.

After spending the entire campaign talking about his support for fracking, Astorino got called out on the fact that he opposes fracking in his home county of Westchester.

8:56 Let’s just get a few simple facts about the governor’s record out in the open here.

When Governor Cuomo began, New York had two basic problems that reinforced each other:
1. The government was dysfunctional: Albany defined gridlock before Washington, our state government was a joke on late night television.[1]
2. Turning the economy around: NY has no future as the tax capital of the nation – people and businesses are mobile. Taxes were high because state government spent a lot – for 50 years state government spent at higher rate (6.8%) than both people earned (6.2%) and inflation (4.1%)[6].

Governor Cuomo set out to make government work and turn the economy around – and Governor Cuomo did:

1. Making Government work:
a. Budget is where government falls apart because that is where the money is. Past 30 years, 23 budgets were late, by an average of 50 days late[3].
b. Last 4 years: 4 on time budgets in a row – first time in 40 years[4].
c. This was accomplished with bipartisan support – overwhelming support of Democrats in the Assembly and Republicans in the Senate[5].

2. Turning the economy around: NY has no future as the tax capital of the nation – people and businesses are mobile. Taxes were high because Governor Cuomo spent a lot – for 50 years state government spent at higher rate (6.8%) than both people earned (6.2%) and inflation (4.1%)[6].
a. Governor Cuomo Reduced Spending:
· Reduced the workforce from 191,000 to 116,000 – lowest in 50 years.
· Passed 3 labor contracts with 0% increases[7]
· Saved State and Local governments $80B over 30 years with Tier VI pension reform[8].
b. Gave us lowest level of spending in 60 years:
· Last three years 1.2%, vs. Pataki (5.2%), Gov. Mario Cuomo (6.9%), Rockefeller (11.1%)[9]
c. Because Governor Cuomo spent less, he could tax less:
· Every New Yorkers pays a lower income tax rate today than 4 years ago[10].
· Lowest middle class (under $300,000) tax rates since 1953[11]
· Lowest business tax rate (6.5%) since 1968[12]
· Lowest manufacturers tax rate (0%) since 1917[13]
· Property taxes capped at 2%, plus 2 year freeze[14].

3. It is working: the arrows are pointing in the right direction – taxes and spending down, jobs up.
· New York has added 511,900 new private sector jobs since the Governor took office.[15]
· New York has the most private sector jobs in history – 7.6 million[16].
· New York is #2 in the nation in jobs created since the recession[17]
· The unemployment rate is lower today in every region of the state than it was 4 years ago.[18]
· The Upstate unemployment rate dropped from 8.4% last year to 6.4% – the single biggest one-year drop in recorded history[19]
· Governor Cuomo turned at $10B deficit into a $2B surplus[20]
· Moody’s gave NYS its highest credit rating – Aa1 – since 1975[21]
· Fitch upgraded NYS to AA+ – highest ever.[22]
· S&P upgraded NYS to AA+ – highest since 1972.[23]

Sidebar: Is it just us, or did Rob Astorino REALLY just lose his temper and turn bright red a few minutes ago?


In 2005, Astorino promised to cut property taxes by 20 percent. However, in his first budget, he only pursed a 1 percent cut. In fact, he vetoed an effort by the County Board of Legislators to cut taxesfurther by 2 percent (the Board overrode that veto). Since the Legislators’ 2 percent cut, Astorino has pursed no additional property tax cuts – even though he said he would in his 2011 State of the County Address. In the same speech, Astorino said it was time to let “some other County take home the Number 1 Trophy” in property taxes. But Westchester still has the highest property taxes in the entire country. (Astorino Press Release, 9/25/05; The Journal News, 12/15/10, 12/23/10, 11/26/13; Westchester County Budgets, accessed 2/19/14; State of the County Address, 4/7/11)

8:44 Math is hard…Mister Astorino, you really could benefit from the common core.

You were polling exactly who for this?

Astorino claims that he won reelection in 2013 with more than 60 percent of the Latino vote in Westchester. However, after the Journal News asked for documentation of Latino support, Astorino’s campaign claimed the numbers were based on an internal poll – which they refused to release – and they could not actually confirm voting-day numbers. A spokesperson said, “All our internals showed significant support in the black and Latino communities… What we can’t know for certain is the final vote tallies among those demographics. Without exit polling, that’s not possible.” (The Journal News, 2/28/14)


8:42 I’m just saying, I’m sticking with my team on this one.


8:36 Rob Astorino just said “Let’s get the facts out…” Funny you should mention that…


Rob Astorino is unequivocally anti-choice and vehemently opposes the Women’s Equality Act. He calls support for the codification of Roe v. Wade “infanticide,” and vetoed a bill designed to prevent harassment of patients and staff entering reproductive health clinics. He has also received the support of a variety of anti-choice organizations.


Astorino has repeatedly referred to support for the Women’s Equality Act as “infanticide.” During his 2013 race, he criticized Noam Bramson for his support of the bill due to the provision that codified Roe v. Wade, calling Bramson’s position “infanticide.” He later used the same incendiary phrase to describe Governor Cuomo’s position, and also referred to “Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act” as “sick” and “ghastly” for codifying existing law. (Politics on the Hudson, 10/14/13, State of Politics, 1/24/14; New York Daily News, 4/29/14)




Astorino vetoed legislation designed to prevent harassment and intimidation of patients and staff entering reproductive health clinics. Astorino said the law was flawed and infringed on anti-abortion protesters’ First Amendment rights. “The legislation is unnecessary, unfair and unconstitutional on its face, all of which put the public at risk,” he said in his veto message. “My veto is a principled attempt to spare our residents of these harmful consequences.” (The Journal News, 5/19/12)



Astorino has been honored and supported by various anti-choice groups, including Bronx-based organization, Program Reach, which called Astorino “a steadfast supporter of the ‘culture of life’ and Rockland County Right to Life, which applauded his vetoing of the bill designed to prevent harassment outside of reproductive health clinics. Astorino ALSO agreed to sponsor an event for Women’s Equality Day Reformed, a group of self-described “anti-abortion feminists” and attended the Yonkers Respect For Life Week, sponsored by Advocates for Life, The Children First Foundation and the Westchester & Putnam Right to Life Committee. (Politics on the Hudson, 8/13/12; Yonkers Rising, 1/14/11)


8:32 File under “flip-flop”:


The Common Core Was Adopted By The Board Of Regents During Cuomo’s First Month In Office; Cuomo “Had No Direct Say In How The Standards Were Written Or Implemented.” Daily News columnist Bill Hammond wrote, “Listening to Rob Astorino rail against the Common Core makes me pine for higher standards not just for the schools, but also for political debate. Beyond being the Westchester County executive and the Republican candidate for governor, Astorino is a bright and reasonably well-spoken guy. Yet his arguments against the Core fall far short of what those standards demand from sixth graders — i.e., the capability of ‘distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.’… Although Astorino insists on calling it ‘Cuomo’s Common Core,’ the decision in New York was actually made by the Board of Regents, a body appointed by the Legislature, during Cuomo’s first month in office. It’s fair to say Cuomo embraced the concept — and built a teacher evaluation system on top of it. But he had no direct say in how the standards were written or implemented. And Astorino, like other Core critics, glosses over another crucial fact: The Core only lays out goals for what kids should learn and when — for example, that a fifth-grader should be able to add and subtract fractions. The specific methods that teachers use to reach those goals are left up to local school districts — and even, in New York City, to individual school principals.” (New York Daily News, 7/9/14)

8:25 A little bit late on this, but this moment just needed a little appreciation.

8:23 Rob Astorino wants to start blathering about corruption. WARNING: WE HAVE A GIANT RAFT OF FACTS HERE.


Astorino’s campaign said, “[T]here is absolutely no conflict of interest,” in response to the reporting of his outside income, which totaled $100,000 over four years. But while he served as a paid host for Clear Channel, the company received County contracts worth millions of dollars in advertising revenue. (AM 970, The Answer with John Gambling, 7/14/14; CBS, 9/23/14; Westchester County Board of Acquisition and Contract, Doing Business Search, accessed 7/14/14)


Even though Astorino said he was “under no obligation” to get approval from the Board of Ethics for his outside work, in 2011 he sponsored and signed into law a bill that required an independent consultant to review conflicts of interest in financial disclosures forms. The Board hired attorney Steven Leventhal to review forms in 2012 and 2013, but let his contract lapse in 2014. Only after questions were raised about Astorino’s income did the Board vote to rehire Leventhal – but at the time, the Board was staffed with Astorino appointees, with at least one individual who was not officially confirmed to hold the position. (New York Daily News, 7/11/14; Westchester County Board of Legislators, 9/9/11; White Plains Patch,7/24/14)


Astorino isn’t the only one who has benefited from his position as County Executive. He has been accused of hiring unqualified friends and allies for lucrative positions in Westchester, and giving raises to others. Even the New York Times noted, “Mr. Astorino makes no apologies for favoring allies from every phase of his life.” Examples of cronyism include a $93,000 public safety job to his mother-in-law’s boyfriend, a nearly $70,000 raise to the wife of his friend and County Attorney Robert Meehan, and a $92,000 job to double-dipping Conservative Party Chair Hugh Fox – who had to resign after crashing his County-owned car while driving drunk. (The Journal News, 5/22/115/18/118/27/14; New York Times, 10/10/14; New York Post, 10/1/14)


Astorino’s campaign donors have reaped hundreds of millions from work before the County – 47 companies and their associates, who contributed over $900,000 to Astorino’s campaign coffers, have received 236 contracts worth a combined $709 million. These contributions demonstrate a clear example of hypocrisy. When he ran in 2005, he attacked Andy Spano for “rampant” pay-to-play in awarding County contracts and pledged to enact pay-to-play reforms. But once he was elected in 2009, Astorino never made an effort to follow through on that promise. (New York Daily News, 9/30/14; The Journal News, 9/28/05)


Astorino is currently being sued by the Independence Party for alleged racketeering after he conspired with family members and other accomplices to rig his 2013 reelection through voter fraud. A state judge removed over 3,700 voters Astorino enrolled as Independence members, which Astorino said he did as “insurance” in order to “decapitate” his political enemies. In addition, the Westchester District Attorney is reviewing a request for an investigation into Astorino over the Party’s lawsuit. (New York Observer,6/17/14; Associated Press, 6/17/14; LoHud, 11/1/13; Politico, 7/30/14)


After a federal judge found Astorino violated anti-discrimination laws, HUD has withheld over $20 million in grants for Westchester over his failure to adhere to the fair housing settlement. Additionally, the federal monitor overseeing the case and US Attorney Preet Bharara accused him of making “numerous false and misleading statements” to the public about the settlement. Now, Astorino has been ordered to sit for a sworn deposition regarding his actions. (Associated Press, 5/8/128/9/14; New Rochelle City Review, 9/25/14; United States District Court Southern District of New York, ‘United States of America v. Westchester County,’ 1:06-cv-02860-DLC, Monitor’s Second Biennial Assessment of Westchester County’s Compliance, filed 6/26/14; Associated Press, 8/9/14)


Despite claims that allowing fracking in New York State is the “right thing to do,” before his run for Governor, Astorino believed the practice was not safe enough for his home county of Westchester.


Astorino has made implementing fracking in New York State key plank of his gubernatorial campaign, calling it the “right thing to do.” (Politics on the Hudson, 11/25/13)



While Astorino supports fracking in New York State, in 2012, before he was running for Governor, he determined the practice was not safe enough for Westchester after he signed a bill banning the use of fracking waste to de-ice roads, saying, “[W]e don’t frack in Westchester.” The ban “prohibits the sale, application and disposal of the material, and is applies to all wastewater treatment plants and roads,” with the County determining these “toxic substances” posed “significant public health and environmental risks.” (Capital New York, 5/14/14)



8:11 Rob Astorino’s record on ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SPENDING

Astorino claims Westchester created 30,000 private sector jobs during his first term. However, during that time, he slashed economic development funding by 82 percent. In 2009, the year before Astorino took office, the Westchester County Office of Economic Development expended $453,412. In 2012, those expenditures decreased to $83,290, representing an 81.6 percent cut for the office. (Westchester County Budget, Page C-36 20112014)

8:07 The first of many an ASTORINO FACT CHECK: People are NOT Leaving NYS

Lie: Astorino says that as many as 400,000 people have left New York State in the last four years.

Truth: New York State’s population has actually increased during this time.

See our post about this.

7:41 While we’re waiting for the debate to start: here’s just a little bit of what the Democrats have been up for the last 4 years.

NY Dems Agenda 


The Top 5 Ultra-Conservative Things Rob Astorino Hopes Won’t Come Up In Tonight’s Gubernatorial Debate

1. Rob Astorino has called the Women’s Equality Act “ghastly” and opposes Roe v. Wade in New York, falsely claiming it would allow non-doctors to perform abortions in the 9th month of a pregnancy.

2. Rob Astorino opposes marriage equality and his allies are unapologetically anti gay rights.

3. Rob Astorino wants to repeal gun background checks for criminals & the mentally ill, and allow guns in our schools.

4. Rob Astorino wants to drastically cut Medicaid for seniors, including dental services.

5. Rob Astorino is the only County Executive in the nation violating federal civil rights laws which has cost Westchester residents over $10 million in community grants.

Keep checking back here to track how Rob Astorino’s debate claims match up with the record: