“It’s a real New York debate!” said NY1’s Errol Louis, the moderator of Tuesday night’s New York City mayoral debate over the cheers and chants of the raucous crowd. That crowd was the story of the night, with members of the audience responding loudly and often. But the candidates provided their own entertainment, trading verbal jabs for the whole 90 minutes in the midst of some substantial discussion about topics including transit, crime, inequality and immigration. Here are some of the highlights:
Bill de Blasio: “Sometimes there are elections where people feel that the candidates are all alike. You’re not going to have that problem this time. My two opponents are right-wing Republicans who voted for Donald Trump.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was quick to draw differences between himself and his two leading general election opponents, Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and independent candidate Bo Dietl. De Blasio said this in his opening statement, and spent the rest of the night largely on defense as Malliotakis and Dietl took turns attacking the incumbent, who has a huge lead in the polls.
Malliotakis: “Are you afraid of Governor Cuomo?”
Malliotakis asked this of de Blasio, who has a well-publicized, ongoing feud with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She was asking de Blasio why he did not do more to fix the city’s subways, and the line received long and lively cheers from the crowd. De Blasio responded that he was comfortable taking on the governor.
Bo Dietl: “The only good thing (de Blasio) ever did was – I like that pre-K stuff. That was pretty good. Maybe I’ll put you in charge of that.”
Dietl met all expectations, spending much of the night in a frenzy, often yelling into a microphone that was turned off after Louis determined he was interrupting the rest of the debate too much. This line was one of his cleaner blows.
Grace Rauh: “How will you be in charge of the city’s $85 billion budget if you have had this much trouble managing your own finances?”
In a debate full of tough questioners, NY1 political reporter Grace Rauh may have been the toughest, in this case asking Dietl about his history of unpaid taxes. Dietl said he was paying them off, and that a residency dispute was to blame. Rauh was momentarily the center of attention later, when Malliotakis accused her of “carrying the mayor’s water” for asking a question about Malliotakis’ ongoing support for President Trump.
De Blasio: “I’m really not looking to Bo Dietl for advice on diplomacy.”
Dietl tried to defend his April comments about expecting a certain judge to rule against him because she “looked like Chirlane de Blasio,” the mayor’s wife, during what may have been the most raucous scene of the evening. De Blasio called his comments “un-American” while Dietl continued to yell about de Blasio being a “liar.”