BUFFALO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended his handling of the economy and government corruption under sharp criticism from Republican Rob Astorino Wednesday night during the only scheduled debate of the governor’s race.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, said Cuomo has failed to energize the state’s economy since taking office in 2011. He said Cuomo hasn’t done enough to take on corruption, and predicted that Cuomo himself “may be indicted” following allegations that his administration meddled with an anti-corruption commission.

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“Four years ago, Andrew Cuomo pretended to be the reformer,” Astorino said. “Unfortunately right now he is swimming in the cesspool of corruption.”

“There’s only one person here that has a criminal defense team. It’s not me, it’s Andrew Cuomo,” Astorino added.

Cuomo, a Democrat, dismissed Astorino as too conservative for the state. He cited his work to pass tax cuts and economic development programs that he said are helping the economy to rebound.

“When you remember where we were and you look at where we are now there’s no doubt the state is better off,” he said.

Cuomo also dismissed Astorino’s allegations of corruption, calling it a desperate and uninformed move by his opponent. The governor noted that Astorino has been questioned by federal authorities over a housing desegregation settlement in Westchester County.

The back-and-forth continued as the debate touched on hotbed issues such as a woman’s right to choose and extreme views in government.

Polls show Cuomo is well ahead in the race.

“Astorino has narrowed the gap, however, with less than two weeks until Election Day, about three-quarters of Republicans and Astorino voters think that Cuomo will win,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement. “It appears that Cuomo simply needs to run out the clock.”

For Astorino, the debate provided a critical opportunity to put Cuomo on the defensive less than two weeks before the Nov. 4 election.

Two third-party candidates also participated in the debate.

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Libertarian Michael McDermott criticized the major party candidates and urged voters to carefully consider their options.

“Democrats and Republicans are the problem,” he said. “Just vote Libertarian, one time.”

McDermott added that he opposes the common core, which he believes is “an abomination for our children.”

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins voiced opposition to hydraulic fracturing and said the state needs to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Hawkins added during the debate that the state public schools fail because they are the most segregated state in the U.S.

“This is a cannibalization of our public school system,” he said.

“I wish this was the first of several debates,” Hawkins said. “We’ve barely touched on the issues.”

Additional debates were proposed, but Wednesday’s exchange was the only one that Cuomo and Astorino agreed to. The debate was sponsored by The Buffalo News, WNED-TV and WBFO-FM. It was televised statewide on public television.

Cuomo refused to debate his primary opponent, law professor Zephyr Teachout, who debated against Astorino in September. Cuomo won the Democratic primary 62 percent to 34 percent.

CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer said it was unlikely that the debate Wednesday changed many minds. But she said Astorino may have picked up a few votes in the Hispanic community because he was the only one who spoke Spanish during the debate – even if it was only a few words.

Click here to see the full poll results.

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