Will Andrew Cuomo agree to debate Cynthia Nixon?

The New York gubernatorial primary among Democrats (which is basically the same as the general election in New York) doesn’t take place until September 13th, so there’s still some time for maneuvering among the candidates. Governor Andrew Cuomo only has one serious challenger from his own party, Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon. She’s been having trouble gaining any traction thus far, but today she decided to go on the offensive and challenged Cuomo to a debate. And since this is 2018, she did it on Twitter. Nixon includes a short video where she gets downright nasty, implying he’s not up to the challenge of a one-on-one verbal slugfest.

Assuming the debate happens (a major assumption) it will be hosted by WABC. NY Daily News has the few details available thus far.

Gov. Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon could go head-to-head for the first time in a primetime televised debate.

WABC TV has pitched the face-off between the two Democratic primary candidates — with Nixon quickly hopping aboard to accept.

Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith responded a few hours later, saying, “We look forward to a robust debate. We are currently receiving invitations and reviewing the various opportunities.”

So Cuomo’s spox is saying they’re “looking forward” to it and are “reviewing opportunities.” That sounds like a “yes” but you’ll notice that it’s not exactly a commitment either. Cuomo is in a tough position here, as many incumbents often are. He has absolutely nothing in the world to gain by going head to head against Nixon. He’s already up in the polls by a hefty margin and is unlikely to pull much further ahead. She has no record as a public official to hit her on (aside from a general lack of experience) while he has piles of scandals involving his staffers and aides trailing along behind him, along with issues of dubious fundraising and allegations of bribery surrounding his staff. Nixon has nothing to lose, while Cuomo could really only lose.

Quinnipiac has the race a little tighter than it was a month ago, but Cuomo is still at or above 50 with a 22 point lead. That’s not a situation where you want to open the door to an unpredictable challenger. Cuomo also has a history of ducking debates with problematic challengers. Last time around he was facing a primary battle against Zephyr Teachout and simply refused to debate her. He won handily anyway. That’s another reason it would be truly surprising to see him agree to duke it out with Nixon.

But let’s give Cynthia Nixon credit. She’s in there swinging and trying to make a race of it. But beating a Cuomo in New York is an uphill battle from day one.