Tonight, the first debate between mayoral candidates Bill DeBlasio and Joe Lhota took place. Hosted by ABC News, the hour long exchange involving the Democratic and Republican candidate featured a range of issues. Although this is a race that voters and observers of NYC politics have the biggest stake in, national politics seeped into this evening in several instances.
The government shutdown, which is in its second week is having dire consequences for hundreds of thousands of people was virtually unavoidable as a subject. De Blasio early in the debate connected the Republican orchestrated shutdown to Lhota’s views. This forced Lhota to go on the defensive – distancing himself from national leaders in his party. Not necessarily a position a candidate wants to be in when they are already trailing in the polls. In addition, there is no telling if an attempt for Lhota to put daylight between himself and Boehner and company will convince NYC voters.
Lhota was unable to distance himself from two key liabilities in his political campaign tonight. Namely, the MTA, and his association with Rudolph Guiliani. Doubling down on Stop and Frisk, Lhota spoke of the necessity to continue the practice. Of course, this gave DeBlasio the opening to re state his stance on ending the practice should he become mayor. He also utilized the national partisan fight over the Affordable Care Act, sounding at times like a surrogate championing its progressive aspects. Taking care to expound upon progressive intentions, DeBlasio presented his vision for an inclusive New York City in a much more confident manner than Mr. Lhota.
This debate went well for Mr. DeBlasio- the polls were already heavily lopsided against Lhota. Analyzing this first exchange, it is doubtful that many minds were changed. November 5th is a mere three weeks away. It should be noted the similarity in response to both candidates on the question of labor. Both DeBlasio and Lhota were against “negotiating in public” over the issue of expired labor contracts for city workers. What this bodes for the unions, remains to be seen.
If you saw the debate,what did you think?