These Moments From Cynthia Nixon & Andrew Cuomo's Debate Show The Race Is Seriously Heating Up

ByCaroline Burke
Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In their first (and potentially last) televised encounter before the primary election, Cynthia Nixon and Andrew Cuomo's debate was filled with fiery moments between the two politicians. Though both Cuomo and Nixon are technically Democrats, they've been publicly battling for the Sept. 13 primary with the type of aggression and intensity that you see more often between opposing parties in general elections. Cuomo is currently the incumbent governor of New York, but former actress Nixon is looking to change that.

There were tons of intense moments during the one-hour-long debate on Wednesday evening, from Nixon pointing out that marijuana has been "legal for white people for a long time" to Cuomo shouting to Nixon that she was a "corporation." Nixon claimed that Cuomo uses the "MTA like an ATM," and Cuomo fired back that Nixon has "been as forthcoming on [her] taxes as Donald Trump."

Though the debate was heated, the polling numbers don't necessarily predict a close race. Polls suggest Cuomo has consistently been in the lead over Nixon since she announced her campaign. Cuomo also has a significant financial advantage, having raised $24.4 million for his campaign in comparison to Nixon's $1.6 million. Nixon's team hasn't made a public effort to focus too much on its smaller funding. However, it has pointed out that polling in other recent progressive races hasn't been entirely accurate.

Nixon spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said via CNN, "Polls of registered voters clearly aren't capturing the kind of Democrats who have been turning out to vote in primaries — the most motivated, most progressive part of the base."

Regardless of how you feel about Cuomo or Nixon, their debate on Wednesday night was pretty fun to watch.

The Moment Nixon Offered To Forfeit Her Salary

Yep, she went for it: when Nixon was asked if she would be willing to forgo the $175,000 salary and put that money back to work for the government, Nixon hesitated for a few seconds. Then she said, "Yes."

The Moment Cuomo Created Two Different Worlds

After Nixon said that Cuomo uses the "MTA like an ATM," Cuomo said, "My opponent lives in the world of fiction. I live in the world of fact."

The Moment Cuomo Asked Nixon to Stop Interrupting

When Nixon interrupted Cuomo's point about who owns the subway system (the state of New York or New York City; Cuomo claimed the city owns it, Nixon claimed the state owns it), Cuomo turned to her and said, "Excuse me, can you stop interrupting?"

"Can you stop lying?" Nixon fired back.

"As soon as you do," Cuomo replied.

When Nixon Pointed Out That Marijuana Is a Race-Related Issue

When asked a question related to marijuana, Nixon said, "First and foremost, [legalizing marijuana] is a racial justice issue...because people across all ethnic and racial lines use marijuana at roughly the same rates, but the arrests for marijuana are 80% black and Latina."

Nixon continued, "We need to not only legalize marijuana, but when this multi-billion dollar industry comes to New York, we need to prioritize the individuals and the communities that have been the most harmed by the war on drugs...and prioritize those communities not only for licenses but for small business loans...and we need to use the tens of millions of dollars that we will have in revenue to invest in the communities that have been targeted."

The Moment Nixon Pointed Out The Gerrymandered Districts in New York

When Cuomo argued that New York needs to work to get out of the control of the Republican party, Nixon shot back, "Didn't you allow the Republicans to gerrymander their own districts?"

Nixon was referencing a redistricting act signed in 2011 by Cuomo.

The Moment Cuomo Accused Nixon of Doing a "Special Favor" for Sarah Jessica Parker

At one point, Cuomo accused Nixon of performing political favors for her friends, and mentioned a "tea house", which confused pretty much everyone on Twitter until Jillian Jorgensen of the Daily News explained it. Jorgensen tweeted, "The Sarah Jessica Parker tea house thing is that SJP emailed Nixon with a complaint from the owner of tea shop Tea & Sympathy, which Nixon emailed on to the mayor’s team."

When Cuomo Accused Nixon of Being a "Corporation"

In perhaps the most convoluted argument of the night, Cuomo claimed that Nixon had performed favors for her friends (the favor in question was a request by Nixon that helicopters not fly over Shakespeare in the Park so that people could hear) and then quickly devolved into saying repeatedly to Nixon, "You are a corporation."

It was an accusation to which Nixon replied, "I am a person ... that's not a favor [to a person] ... that's a favor to the people of New York."

Though the jury's out on how the primary results will look, the Twittersphere seemed to largely rule Nixon as the winner of the debate. New York Daily News editor Alyssa Katz tweeted what seemed to be an appropriate summary of the evening for many users: "Just watching a smart woman spar capably with Gov. Cuomo for an hour on full public display is worth the entire Cynthia Nixon candidacy, win or lose."