Two of the three leading Democrats running for New York governor faced off in their first debate Thursday, with Jumaane Williams and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi missing no opportunities to attack the absent incumbent, Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Williams, New York City’s elected public advocate, started the critiques of Hochul from his opening remarks, saying to Suozzi, “Although we have some differences, at least we both showed up.”
Suozzi followed suit, saying New Yorkers were unhappy and “we can do better than this.”
Hochul became governor in August when then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned. She has garnered a number of endorsements, including that of the state’s Democratic party, and has well-funded campaign coffers.
Her campaign said she didn’t participate in the debate in order to concentrate on the finale of the legislative session in Albany.
Suozzi, who represents Long Island, and Williams criticized Hochul on a number of issues, including her plan to spend an eventual $850 million toward a new stadium for her hometown Buffalo Bills.
And in the wake of the May 14 shooting at a Buffalo grocery store where 10 Black people were killed in a racist attack, they criticized her for a positive rating from the NRA she received 10 years ago when she was in Congress and running for reelection from a western New York district.
There are two scheduled debates that include Hochul; one on June 7 on WCBS-TV and Newsradio 880, and the other on June 16 sponsored by WNBC-TV, Telemundo and the Times Union.
The Democratic primary for governor is June 28.