Last night, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and former State Assembly Republican minority leader John Faso had their first gubernatorial debate. Both promised not to tax New York residents, though Faso wonder how Spitzer would be able to do that, with Spitzer's ambitious plans to cut taxes, give people more health coverage, and help school financing. Faso pointed out that Spitzer uses the private plane of a developer interested in bringing a casino to NY State, so Spitzer came back with Faso' rides on a state contractor's plane while in the Assembly. Note to all politicians: Book your own air travel.
Spitzer painted Faso as being extremely conservative, and the topic of gay marriage caused a wacky moment. From the NY Post (which called the debate "Nutty and Naughty":
An X-rated moment unfolded as the Republican Faso accused Spitzer, a Democrat, of planning to "force gay marriage down the throats of many New Yorkers" if he's elected.
Faso, a conservative former Assembly minority leader who opposes gay marriage, appeared unaware of his provocative comment, which brought gasps and laughs from the largely college-age audience.
But Attorney General Spitzer, who backs gay marriage, quickly quipped, "Let me respond to John without commenting on his use of metaphors," a crack that also produced a big ripple of laughter.
Faso and Spitzer were then admonished a few minutes later by the debate moderator, Brian Taffe of Albany's Capital News 9, who noted, "We are cable but not HBO, so we have to keep it clean in that regard."
They both criticized State Comptroller Alan Hevesi for allowing a state worker to chauffeur his wife. As Hevesi has agreed to pay back $82,000 to the state, Spitzer called Hevesi an "honest" man while Faso said Hevesi should "resign his office because he’s abused his public trust.”
The Daily News proclaimed that Spitzer "K-O'd" Faso, noting Faso looked "pallid and nervous throughout" (though Spitzer had his flubs). The Sun, though, felt there were no knockout punches. We're not sure this debate put a dent into Spitzer's campaign, which leads Faso's in both poll number and contributions.
Photograph of gubernatorial candidates John Faso and Eliot Spitzer by David Duprey/AP