(CNN) - New York's gubernatorial debate lived up to its expectation that it would be political theater as Republican candidate Carl Paladino faced Democrat Andrew Cuomo for the first time in a debate in a race making headlines for its nasty tone.
But the two candidates delivered an unexpected headline: there were no fireworks between them.
There was, however, sparring from the other five candidates. Questions ranged from the state's projected $8 billion deficit to how to create jobs. And third party candidates took what opportunities they could to take jabs at the leading contenders.
Kirsten Davis, a former madam who wants to legalize prostitution, answered one question on taxes with a shot at Paladino, saying, "Businesses will leave this state quicker than Carl Paladino at a gay bar."
Charles Barron, a former Black Panther and city councilman, repeatedly took aim at Democrat Andrew Cuomo, saying he was selective when it comes to being tough on corruption. He said, "Asking Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino to end corruption is like asking an arsonist to help us put out the fires. It doesn't make sense."
Jimmy McMillan, a Vietnam vet and karate teacher brought levity to the stage at several points when he punctuated his comments by declaring, "Rent is too damn high," which is also the name of his political party.
Green Party Candidate Howie Hawkins made his case to eliminate tax cuts for the rich. At one point, Libertarian Party candidate Warren Redlich called Paladino "his own special interest." Paladino followed but didn't take the bait. He asked the moderator, "Is this a rebuttal?" He paused and went on to say, "Now the people of the state of New York, they're looking for something to hold on to."
Paladino seemed nervous at times. At one point during the debate, he left the stage to go to the restroom.
Cuomo, for his part, also didn't take the bait, ignoring the jabs aimed his way. He made his case to be governor, saying he knows the state "like nobody else on this stage". But he tried to distance himself from the state's dysfunctional government, saying, " I understand the disgust at Albany and I share it."
Cuomo's closing statement was slammed by Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo who said, "The hollow rhetoric was just too damn high."
Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman, who attended the debate, had a different take. "Andrew Cuomo showed why he should be governor and the rest showed why they should be on 'Saturday Night Live,'" he said.
This race is over. What was the latest polling again? Paladino's down by 40 points?
The only one who makes sense is Charles Barron. He has my vote.
This debate was really funny, Palidino like all bullies, was really timid and nervous when push came to shove, and he did walk off the stage without notice looking for a bathroom, what the heck.LOL...
All the makings of a circus. They just needed a clown but I guess Obama was already booked.
If Paladino or any other of these freaks become governor of NY I emigrate.
C'mon people get real
Unfortunately, this election was decided months ago. The blind followers of the democrats from New York City will vote for the candidate with the D after their name instead of the best candidate.
Wonder who slapped Paladino quiet?
A Tea Party win in America= The American equivolent of Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
Power seized by a Right Wing group who want to force their religious views on the citizens against their will ,under the guise of "Moral leadership".
How sad that we in NY have such a poor field of nut jobs and freaks to choose a governor from. From fools to arrogant narcissism. No wonder the state is both financially and morally bankrupt. Maybe it's time to abandon the sinking derelict.
How sad to have such a selection of misfits from which to choose. It is a case of the lesser evil from a field of fools and arrogant narcissists. No wonder this state is both financially and morally bankrupt.
Clearly this debate was won by Warren Redlich the only true conservative in this race.
I watched the debate on the internet since apparently the rest of NY didn't "deserve" to see it (it was only broadcast in Long Island, from what I could tell). I'm a VERY strong democrat and had intended to vote Cuomo, not because I particularly like Cuomo but because he's "our" candidate. After the debate, I feel the only fully credible candidate on that stage was the Libertarian candidate, Warren Redlich, whose comments were thoughtful, courteous and intelligent, followed by the Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins whose platform on green growth and development I'm fully in accord with. If I weren't terrified that if too many of us (but not enough of us) switched our votes, we'd end up with Crazy Carl, I'd be voting Libertarian this year. I hope Mr. Redlich runs again, because next time I'd definitely vote for him. I don't believe in Libertarian principles, but he is an intelligent, persuasive and likeable individual that I believe would be an excellent representative at the state level.
Yet Kirsten Davis seems to be the only one on the stage with a concrete idea to put into action that WILL work. Paladino and Cuomo have a bunch of ideas that cost people money, taxes and jobs. They will both be a fail.
New York politics has become a joke similar to California. Complete freak show of the left.
It's an easy win for Cuomo. Not even a contest.