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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Challenger Rob Astorino Hurl Accusations During Debate

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The gloves came off Wednesday night between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, in a free-for-all that featured finger-pointing and charges of lying and political corruption.

As CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported, Cuomo, a Democrat, and Astorino went mano a mano in what is likely to be the only debate of the 2014 race to rule New York state.

A minor skirmish over tax policy proved to be just a warm-up.

"We basically have massive corporate welfare, $21 billion in tax credits to big corporations and billionaires," Astorino, the Westchester County executive, charged.

"You are the highest-taxed county in the state, the highest-taxed county in the United States of America," Cuomo fired back.

Astorino raised questions about the Moreland Commission, an ethics panel Cuomo first established and then shut down. Federal prosecutors are looking into how it was handled.

"He is swimming in a cesspool of corruption," the Republican said.

"There is only one person here that has a criminal defense team. It's not me; it's Andrew Cuomo," said Astorino, adding that Cuomo "very well may be indicted after Election Day."

The incumbent said Astorino's prediction "truly is outrageous."

"The U.S. attorney that he is now quoting said about Mr. Astorino that he's given numerous false and misleading lies," Cuomo said. "That's federal speak for 'you're lying.'"

Cuomo then raised the issue of a federal lawsuit against Westchester County for fair-housing violations affecting minorities.

"The federal government is suing one county executive out of 3,000 in the nation for discrimination, and it's Mr. Astorino," Cuomo said. "They've taken $20 million from him for discriminating in Westchester County."

Astorino responded: "Don't listen to his nonsense. When he throws out the race card, it's because he has no ideas."

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Libertarian Michael McDermott also participated in the debate. Because the candidates were given equal time to discuss issues such as fracking, abortion and charter schools, Cuomo and Astorino each got about 12 minutes to hurl charges.

Astorino, whose campaign is badly underfunded, wrote to newspaper editorial boards around the state seeking their support for more debates.

On Thursday, Cuomo campaigned with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodhman Clinton. Astorino was upstate.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

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