Last night, in the final 2013 mayoral debate, Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio both claimed the mantle of Rocky Balboa. Hosted by WNBC-TV and co-sponsored by NBC New York, Telemundo Nueva York, The Wall Street Journal and the New York City Campaign Finance Board, the debate was a free flowing affair featuring some serious discussion and some personal irritation. While not a nasty affair, it nonetheless had both candidates displaying frustration and irritation: Lhota at his lack of attention and momentum against what he views as a vastly less qualified opponent, and de Blasio at his going-nowhere opponent constantly painting him as “dangerous” and talking about David Dinkins and the city’s ’80s & early ’90s troubles.
As Lhota walked in for his post-debate Q&A the press pack converged in on him, prompting some audible consternation and a little shoving. The early crush of attention dissolved a few minutes later, however, as Bill de Blasio came into the far side of the large room. Like ball bearings to a more powerful magnet, the press pack around Lhota suddenly thinned, drawn by the more potent presence across the room.
Here is most of Lhota’s Q&A. Although I stayed with Lhota longer than most of the press, I moved to de Blasio as a Czech TV reporter began asking Lhota about his Czech heritage.
Today in Breezy Point residents commemorated the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy with a public ceremony and a volunteer effort at planting dune grass on a long sand dune that residents recently created. Many elected officials and candidates, including Joe Lhota, Phil Goldfeder, Joe Addabbo, Eric Ulrich, Tish James, Scott Stringer and John Liu attended.
As we walked from the ceremony toward the ocean and the dune, I asked Joe Lhota whether he likes going to the beach for fun. Turns out that he loves the ocean and loves to surf.
In the past three days, both mayoral candidates have talked sports in Breezy Point. Sunday, Bill de Blasio received a less-than-welcome invitation to play basketball while visiting Breezy Point.
Update #2 – Lhota Press Q&A:
After planting dune grass, Joe Lhota spoke with the press. He sought to keep the focus on Sandy recovery, but also made some revealing comments about his decision to run and some of the tactical considerations in his campaign. He declined to criticize Bill de Blasio’s absence from Rockaway today, saying that there are many places and ways to commemorate the anniversary of Sandy and that he is “not going to use this as a day to politic.”
Lhota spoke very highly of the Blooomberg administration’s resiliency plans, describing the Plan NYC report as a “great roadmap” and an important part of Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy.
He seemed genuinely surprised by a reporter asking why he hasn’t done more to campaign on his role in recovery from both Sandy and the September 11th attacks, saying that he is “running on the future, not running on the past” and that “glorifying tragedies is not something that I think is important in campaigning.” He added, perhaps naively, that “I think everyone knows what I did.”
Lhota also gave a detailed look at his decision to run for mayor and his related discussions with Governor Cuomo.
Bill de Blasio visited Rockaway’s Breezy Point today, seeing Sandy recovery progress firsthand.
As part of his visit, de Blasio met with a small group of community leaders in Breezy Point. The discussion (during the portion the press was allowed in, at least) focused on some longterm challenges for Rockaway, including rebuilding and the powerful economic issue of flood insurance, both it’s pricing and it’s applicability. Changes underway, in part the result of the Biggert-Waters Act, and changes in the National Flood Insurance Program, may have profound consequences for Rockaway and other waterfront areas. The answers aren’t easy, or even apparent yet for some questions.
Here is de Blasio’s full Q&A with the press.
Update – Beware the Basketball Invite:
In a lighthearted (we think) moment, Kevin Boyle invited mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio to join a 50+ basketball league organized by the Graybeards. de Blasio wisely deferred on agreeing to give angry Yankee and Giant fans an opportunity for revenge.
Today Joe Lhota held a press conference to express his support for charter schools. It’s a clear distinction between himself and Bill de Blasio, who despite some recent tone changes, is decidedly unfriendly towards charter schools.
Lhota took press questions on a variety of topics, including charters, independent election expenditures and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling issued yesterday, Ray Kelly, P-Tech and the president’s visit, whether as mayor he would substantially change the way that DOE interacts with charter schools and whether he has any former schools chancellors or other school leaders whom he views as good models or examples of what he would like his schools chancellor to do.
Among his responses: condemning Bill de Blasio for “hypocrisy” in criticizing the court ruling allowing expanded independent expenditure funding but benefiting from such spending, including a reported $1 million ad buy by the United Federation of Teachers. Lhota’s attacks included asking, concerning de Blasio and the UFT, “how far down does Bill sit in their pocket?” Lhota also expressed a fear, should de Blasio win, of “watching the UFT pick his pocket” in contract negotiations.
Here is the full Q & A portion of the press conference.
As a former senior deputy to Rudy Giuliani, Joe Lhota has frequently been asked about Giuliani and Lhota’s time as his budget director and deputy mayor. Lhota speaks highly of Giuliani and, as the de Blasio v. Lhota election has at times morphed into a rerun of Dinkins v. Giuliani, enthusiastically promoted the Giuliani legacy. Giuliani was in many ways an extremely successful mayor, overseeing a dramatic improvement in public safety and more broadly restoring the sense that the City was governable. Lhota rightly extolls those accomplishments, fairly claiming a degree of credit for them and arguing that he will govern in that mold.
Lhota seems largely unable to simultaneously deal with the negative aspect of Giuliani’s legacy, however, muddling the effectiveness of his pitch to voters from the Giuliani era. Giuliani was a powerful personality who belittled and excoriated those who opposed him, often looking like a bully. As his term drew to a close he was washed up as a political leader, the public exhausted by the endless operatic drama and glad to see him go. Redeemed by his extraordinary response to the September 11th attacks, Giuliani’s negatives have been largely ignored since he left office. They’re present in the 2013 mayoral discussion however, both overtly and beneath the surface, generating a visceral rejection in many voters. Lhota appears unwilling or unable to deal with that negative reaction, but unless he can better separate the positive and negative strands of the Giuliani legacy Lhota seems unlikely to fully capitalize on the positive Giuliani legacy.
I asked Lhota about it today at a press conference in East Flatbush.
Update – Personality Glimpses:
Here are two very brief clips displaying a bit of Lhota’s personality. In the first, he brusquely dismisses a question asking how he would have managed his campaign differently (noting in fairness to Lhota, election day is still 12 days away). In the second, a brief quip illustrates his dry humor.
Last night Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota had the second of their three televised debates. Their respective former mayoral bosses, David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani, loomed large during and after the debate.
Bill de Blasio:
Here is Bill de Blasio’s full press Q&A following the debate.
Here is Joe Lhota’s full press Q&A following the debate.
On Thursday, both mayoral candidates addressed the Crown Heights riots through the prism of Bill de Blasio’s tenure as a junior city hall staffer. By de Blasio’s description, he was working in City Hall on those days and received an unspecified number of phone calls from concerned community leaders. He further says, however, that as a junior staff member he was not actively engaged in responding to the rioting. Lhota has seized upon de Blasio’s receipt of phone calls without further engagement as evidence of de Blasio’s lack of readiness to govern the city.
There is much to unravel in the current discussion of this ugly 20 year old chapter in the City’s history, particularly the inverted resuscitation of the bitter Dinkins/Giuliani rivalry. Giuliani, of course, redeemed his initial loss by besting Dinkins in their second and final mayoral election and is widely viewed as having rescued the City from the long-running street crime epidemic that continued into the Dinkins era. In the 2013 inverted edition, however, it is the Dinkins junior staffer who is electorally crushing the once high-ranking Giuliani aide. Forgotten by much of the City, the riots nonetheless remain a paradigmatic moment for the man elected in part on public revulsion of the City’s response to the riots and for his former deputy. Whether that former Giuliani deputy can transform the failures of 1991 into 2013 electoral gain remains unanswered.
Joe Lhota spoke with the press today, following a visit to the Young at Heart Senior Center at Regina Pacis, on 65th Street in Dyker Heights.
Among the topics Lhota discussed were his fundraising, Bill de Blasio’s role in city government during the Crown Heights riots of 1991 and how Lhota may close the enormous gap between de Blasio’s and Lhota’s electoral chances as shown by recent public polls.
At a press conference today, Bill de Blasio was asked by a reporter to “please tell us specifically what your plans are to keep crime down.” Some press reports described de Blasio as “testy” in his response – it didn’t seem that way to me, but you can judge for yourself. Here’s how he responded.
After touring the Achiezer Community Resource Center, Lhota spoke with the press. Among the topics: the need to restructure city government for the first time in 11 years, Lhota’s recent ad and his view of Bill de Blasio, Banksy, the number of police officers and his synagogue mini-kerfuffle.
Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio faced off in their first one-on-one debate Tuesday evening. The full debate, hosted by WABC-TV 7, is available here. Following the debate, both candidates spoke with the press, continuing their attacks.
During and after the debate, de Blasio continued working to tie Lhota to the Tea Party and Republican Party dysfunction in Washington. Lhota has fought back, asserting for weeks that he rejects both the Tea Party and the Republican tactics in Washington. In his post-debate remarks, Joe Lhota continued pushing back, arguing that he is independent of those elements of his party. He accused Bill de Blasio of “lying about me” and “continu[ing] to lie about who I am and what I am,” and calling de Blasio a “typical classic political hack.”
A Uniter, Not a Divider:
I asked Lhota whether it’s instructive for voters to consider his service under Rudy Giuliani and de Blasio’s service under David Dinkins. He responded by describing himself as a problem-solving unifier during the Giuliani administration, without reference to Dinkins or de Blasio’s time in the Dinkins administration.
Here is a look at the mayoral race, as sent to our subscribers this afternoon. (You can join our subscriber list on the right side of this page.)
Mayoral Race Shapes Up
The race for mayor has shaped up, but it certainly has not heated up. With election day exactly three weeks from today, the race has settled into a lopsided contest with Bill de Blasio leading Joe Lhota by 40 to 50 points in public opinion polls. As de Blasio and Lhota meet tonight in their first televised debate, Lhota desperately needs to shake up the race.
Although the consistently lopsided polls paint the race as finished and predictable, a close watching of what the candidates are saying reveals many unexpected moments. For example – which candidate said this?
“What we need to do to deal with income inequality, which we have in this city, is talking about what programs we’re going to have to be able to deal with the income inequality, how we’re going to make New York affordable, how we’re going to make affordable housing more plentiful in the City of New York.” It was Republican Joe Lhota. Continue reading Mayoral Race Shapes Up→
On Friday Joe Lhota and Assembly Member Joe Borelli held a press conference calling on the City to allow Staten Island drivers to use roads inside the now-closed Fresh Kills landfill. Fresh Kills was closed in 2001 and is presently being developed as an eco-park.
Opening roads for local drivers, who endure heavy traffic congestion, is an appealing issue for Lhota. It highlights his deep deficit in the race, however, as he’s fighting on what should be his turf both geographically and topically, rather than on Bill de Blasio’s turf.
Here’s our look at Lhota’s battle.
Here is complete video of the press conference held by Joe Lhota and Assembly Member Joe Borelli.
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