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Hochul, Zeldin debate about gubernatorial debates

There were three debates scheduled, but Hochul on Wednesday accepted only one, on Oct. 25 at Pace University in New York City. Zeldin has declined the one invite.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It's beginning to seem like there might not be a debate between the two New York gubernatorial candidates.

Republican Lee Zeldin had called for at least five debates across the state against incumbent Kathy Hochul.

There were three debates scheduled, but Hochul on Wednesday accepted only one, on Oct. 25 at Pace University in New York City.

Zeldin has declined the one invite, saying he would only accept if Hochul debates him three times. He called it a "non-starter" and repeated his call for multiple debates, and in different regions across the state.

Political debates have been a normal part of the gubernatorial process for some time. But now more and more candidates are refusing to hold them.

What sort of impact could its disappearance have on the process?

Professor Shawn Donahue with the Political Science department at the University at Buffalo joined Michael Wooten on the 2 On Your Side Town Hall on Thursday to discuss the lack of debates. You can watch the interview below:

With fewer and fewer debates in big races for governor, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate, 2 On Your Side asked NBC's political director and moderator of "Meet The Press," Chuck Todd, if what's happening in New York is unique, and whether he ultimately thinks Hochul and Zeldin will come to some agreement as we head toward November's general election.

"Well look, the debate over debates is sort of one of the standard storylines of the fall campaign in any midterm or any election cycle," Todd said. "Candidates that are ahead want to do as few debates as possible, and when they do agree to them, they want to do them at 7 o'clock in the morning on Sunday morning, up against maybe NFL pregame.

"And if you're a challenger like Lee Zeldin, you want to do multiple debates. So I don't think Zeldin is sort of, when you're trailing by as much as he's trailing, and you're being outspent by as much as he's being out spent, I think he's in a situation in which he isn't in a position to say no, because I don't know if she's going to offer him another debate."

Todd added: "So my guess is he ends up capitulating and doing whatever she will agree to do, because at the end of the day, any debate for Zeldin is better than no debate."

In Western New York, The Buffalo News and WNED proposed a debate in Buffalo, which would be broadcast statewide on PBS. Neither candidate has responded to that offer.

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