By Carl Campanile New York Post October 22, 2014
If this doesn’t rattle Gov. Cuomo, nothing will — he’s being accused of being a “big pussy” by the actor who played the mobster with that suggestive name on “The Sopranos.”
Bronx-born Vincent Pastore issued the hit job in a video blasting Cuomo for refusing to participate in a one-on-one television debate with Republican challenger Rob Astorino.
“Andrew Cuomo won’t debate Rob Astorino on TV one-on-one,” gripes Pastore in the 15-second video set to be posted to YouTube by Astorino backers.
“And they call me Big Pussy?” said Pastore, who played the New Jersey Mafioso Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero on HBO’s “The Sopranos.”
Astorino’s campaign said it was not behind the video — but appreciated it.
“We were told of Mr. Pastore’s interest in speaking out through a Bronx Republican with whom he works. His interest in the race is greatly appreciated. There’s something to be said for plain speaking,” said Astorino spokesman Bill O’Reilly.
The video was to be released before the only scheduled gubernatorial debate, Wednesday in Buffalo.
Cuomo and Astorino are scheduled to take the stage with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Libertarian Party standard-bearer Michael McDermott.
The Republican contender has been trying unsuccessfully for weeks to lure Cuomo into a one-on-one TV debate, where Astorino can try to score points with voters without the distraction of other candidates chiming in.
Vincent Pastore, who acted in “The Sopranos,” in his video message to the governor.
The Wednesday night showdown will be telecast statewide on PBS.
The “Big Pussy” video is clearly an attempt to try to shake up Cuomo before the key confrontation.
Pastore told The Post “I’ve never been an overly political guy, but what Andrew Cuomo’s doing is wrong.
“This is supposed to be a democracy,” he added. “Consider this video my contribution to the political process this year.”
Cuomo’s camp, meanwhile, basted the clip and Astorino for “appreciating” it.
“Astorino is so unhinged that his vulgarity and desperation are now obvious to everyone,” said Cuomo campaign spokesman Matt Wing.
One GOP insider said the shot from The Sopranos actor may have hit close to the mark.
“Big Pussy raises a good point. Cuomo is playing it safe,” chuckled GOP consultant Ed Rollins.
“Gov. Cuomo should stand up and defend his record. The lack of debates make it look like he has something to hide, something he’s afraid of. It’s not that he doesn’t know state government.”
Astorino declined a one-on-one WNYC radio debate with the governor, charging that the Cuomo campaign was refusing to go before the TV cameras.
The Cuomo campaign countered that Astorino had his chance to go up directly against the governor and declined.
The most recent Quinnipiac University poll shows Cuomo leading Astorino by a commanding 55-34 percent.
Cuomo has an enormous fund-raising advantage, which has enabled him to overwhelm Astorino on the paid-ad airwaves.