The crowd was animated and responsive as the opponents interrupted each other during particularly passionate moments of the debate. When Nixon dinged the governor for accepting donations from the billionaire Republican mega-donor Koch brothers, Cuomo returned to Nixon's taxes: "She's upset with the Koch brothers because they're the only ones who take more tax cuts than she does".
"Excuse me, can you stop interrupting?"
"Can you stop lying?" asked Nixon.
Cuomo says he's led the charge against the White House; Nixon said the governor hasn't fought the White House hard enough.
Nixon is expected to accuse Cuomo of doing too little to address political corruption, income inequality or New York City's aging subways, while Cuomo touts his experience and liberal accomplishments like a higher minimum wage and same-sex marriage.
The question of whether Cuomo would remain governor throughout the entire term also came up at Wednesday night's debate.
Cuomo made news early in the debate, vowing to serve a full four-year term should he win in November.
Cuomo continued to call Nixon "a corporation" before she said: 'I am a person'. His only real defense on the subways, meanwhile, was to insist the city needs to pay its fair share - which doesn't explain how the system fell into crisis on his watch. "We're talking about adults and effectively, marijuana has been legal in NY for some time and it's time we made it legal for everyone". "When you file taxes as a corporation, you are a corporation". He said the only "corporate Democrat" ― a common pejorative used by candidates like Nixon, who was endorsed by the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America ― was her.
After assuring viewers that Nixon's agenda was unworkable, Cuomo set about portraying her as a phony. Cuomo asked at one point.
The MTA is owned by the state of NY but Cuomo defended himself against the charge that his leadership has been detrimental to the system.
Cuomo responded that he didn't know about Percoco's activities and said he would push for greater ethics reforms if re-elected.
"You have either incompetence or corruption", she said.
She said Cuomo was either complicit or ignorant about what was going on in his administration.
"And you're a corporation", said Cuomo.
"I do work to protect workers and to give rights to workers, and paid family leave is one of the things that does it", said Cuomo. But would not say whether or not he wants an endorsement from the mayor, asserting that de Blasio makes "his own political decisions".
At Long Island's Hofstra University, the two candidates engaged in an often contentious debate, which included accusations of lying on both sides.
"You stood up to (Trump) about as well as he stands up to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin", Nixon said.