Democrats face off in NY Attorney General debate

July 16, 2010 4:45:53 PM PDT
Five democrats are vying for a spot on the ballot this fall to become New York's next Attorney General.

It's a crowded field and most insiders see Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen rice as the frontrunner.

So for her opponents, their strategy seemed to be to try to chip away at that frontrunner perception and she faced an onslaught of attack.

Her opponents blasted Rice as a flip-flopper on Rockefeller drug law reform. It liberalized the sentencing of drug offenders.

"It appears she was for the law at the same time she was against it," Sean Coffey said.

Rice says she supports reform, but questioned why it mandated rehab with not much funding from Albany.

"So there's no question that I agreed with the premise of reforms," Rice said.

Rice was the only candidate to say Eliot Spitzer should have been prosecuted on prostitution charges.

She also said she might have to recuse herself from defending state law that prohibits gay marriage.

There was support here for a new state law preventing the NYPD from keeping data on people stopped and frisked, but not charged with a crime.

"I think it's unassailable when you're stopping over 80% Latino and African-American, those are the names going into the database. There's a component of discrimination here," Eric Schneiderman said.

Yet Rice was accused of having a similar policy in Nassau County.

"The problem in the Nassau county stop and frisk and in New York City is that it's innocent people who have not committed a crime who are being subject to that. That's what's wrong," Brodsky said.

Attorney Sean Coffey portrayed himself as the outsider, a non-politician.

The 5th candidate, former insurance superintendent Eric Dinallo, refused any critique of the investigation on Governor Paterson, saying there's already been too much talk.

"The allegations are serious and they're wrong, but I don't think we should comment about investigations that we may very well inherit," he said.

Some surprises in the debate, Schneiderman said he loves to shoot guns.

Dinallo said he's worked for years trying to overcome a stuttering problem.

The primary is September 14th. Whoever wins that has a good shot at replacing the current Attorney General Andrew Cuomo who's running for governor.

You can watch the debate in its entirety Sunday morning at 11 o'clock on channel 7. We will make it available on demand on after the broadcast.