- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 19, 2010

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — Five minor-party candidates running for governor inserted smatterings of comic relief, audacious zingers and alternative viewpoints Monday night during a 90-minute debate at Hofstra University.

Joining Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino on a crowded stage were Charles Barron of the Freedom Party; Kristin Davis, the former “Manhattan madam,” of the Anti-Prohibition Party; and Howie Hawkins of the Green Party.

Also participating were Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is 2 Damn High Party and Warren Redlich of the Libertarian Party.

Mr. McMillan, while short on specifics on how he would implement his policies, nevertheless stuck to his platform, repeatedly calling for lower rents in public and private housing. Although the audience of more than 1,000 in Hofstra’s basketball arena were repeatedly asked to remain silent during the discussion, they occasionally joined in Mr. McMillan’s mantra that “rent is too damn high.”

At one point near the end of the debate, Mr. Cuomo, the double-digit front-runner who took a serious tone throughout, drew laughter when he quipped: “I agree with Jimmy. The rent is too damn high.”

Others who seem unlikely to be in the winner’s circle on Election Night nevertheless stuck to their niche issues.

Mr. Barron, an outspoken New York City councilman, called for a progressive tax system that would target the wealthy. “How about taking it out on the rich?” he asked. “They have more money; they should pay more.”

Mr. Redlich railed about the size of state government and groused that 110,000 state employees earn more than $100,000 a year. “We have to stop wasting money,” he said. “If you stop wasting money, you will have more money in your pockets.”

Mr. Hawkins called for public financing of elections as a solution to corruption in state government. He also urged a progressive tax system.

Ms. Davis, who supports legalizing marijuana and casino gambling, drew the biggest gasp from the audience when she was asked about addressing waste and fraud at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York City agency that operates the subway system and commuter railroads.

“The only difference between my former business and the MTA is I operated one set of books,” she said, “and my agency delivered on-time and reliable service.”


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