Students campaign for gubernatorial debate on campus

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Following Fordham Daily‘s report last month that indicated all major candidates in this year’s New York gubernatorial race are directly linked to Fordham, students have begun campaigning for a debate to be brought to campus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, FCRH ’79, will likely go up against Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout in the September Democratic primary and then face GOP challenger Rob Astorino, FCRH ’89, in November.

Astorino and Teachout bonded over their Fordham connection — and little else — Tuesday morning as they made a joint statement, speaking against the “growing corruption” in Albany under the leadership of Cuomo.

“[Cuomo] promised campaign finance reform, redistricting reform and a new culture of transparency and accountability,” Teachout said Tuesday. “I believed him. And so I voted for him. But Governor Cuomo broke the promises he made four years ago. The system is still corrupt. He not only refuses to fix it, he is making it worse.”

Astorino, the Westchester County Executive, added, “Professor Teachout and I actually agree on a couple things. First of all, we both think Fordham University is an amazing institution. We also feel very strongly that this governor is corrupt.”

[Cuomo — a widely popular Democrat whom many say is destined for national politics — holds a 37 point lead over Astorino, according to a recent Siena poll. The poll also revealed that Teachout remains unknown to 86% of New York voters.]

Still, students Tom Samuelson and Evan Swager, an incoming USG representative,  have championed an effort to emphasize the candidates’ shared Fordham connection and bring a debate to campus by way of a social media campaign. 385 people had “liked” the Facebook page “Campaign to Have Governor Debate at Fordham” as of Tuesday morning. Another 81 people had followed the campaign’s Twitter account, @FordhamGUB.

Samuelson has said they aim to collected 1,000 “likes” on the Facebook page before appealing to “major media outlets” for additional help.

“We, as the leaders of the student populace, must seize on this golden opportunity and bring our school to greater prominence,” Samuelson wrote on a closed Facebook page dedicated to organizing the effort. “In the recent months progress has been made to arrange for these Rams to come debate one another at their alma mater.” 

A spokesman for Fordham confirmed for Fordham Daily that the university would “fully support” a debate on campus.

Samuelson has said the social media campaign is geared specifically to encourage the Cuomo campaign to debate on campus. Astorino and Teachout have said they would agree to participate in a debate at Fordham, he said.

“We will have to have a coordinated effort,” he wrote. “We will need every Fordham student, alumni, friend and family member possible to tweet and Facebook Cuomo (hopefully at set times). We will need to tweet major New York Political Leaders and New York Newspapers (local ones).”

“Most of all,” he added, “we will need ideas from everyone on how to push the Cuomo people to table so that we can bring the success of Fordham to the greater New York public.”

CAB and RHA have publicly supported this effort, though USG has not yet responded.