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.
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.
Tonight Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and Independence Party mayoral candidate Adolfo Carrion participated in a mayoral candidate debate hosted by NY1. Bill de Blasio was invited, but declined to attend.
Topics that Lhota addressed following the debate include whether his idea of switching MTA Bridges & Tunnels to City control has any chance of state approval, his view of Mayor Bloomberg’s resiliency planning, charter schools and his reaction to a WSJ story describing Ken Langone, one of Lhota’s strongest supporters, as “convinced” that Lhota will lose. Here is Joe Lhota’s full press availability following the debate.
Update – Carrion:
Following the debate, Adolfo Carrion spoke with the press concerning Bill de Blasio’s absence, terming his absence a message of “disrespect to the voters.” Carrion also discussed voter interest and turnout.
In recent days, Joe Lhota has discussed the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, on several occasions. His primary focus has been to denounce House Republicans for demanding defunding of Obamacare in exchange for ending the federal government shutdown. While doing so, however, Lhota has repeatedly returned to a discredited notion: that health care, and health insurance, reform isn’t really necessary because all New Yorkers have access to health care via hospital emergency rooms. It’s a point that many elected Republicans, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney among them, have tried to make.
In reality, the fact that many Americans have hospital emergency rooms as their only health care option is one of the big drivers of the need for broad changes in our health care system. So-called “free riders” who use, but don’t pay for, the health care system, are an enormous financial burden to insureds and taxpayers. The problem is exacerbated by the frequent situation that free riders tend to not have access to preventative care, and only seek health care in a hospital emergency room once they’ve developed a serious condition, resulting in higher costs. Those higher costs are, of course, borne by others.
So yes, it’s true that we provide health care to all via our public hospitals. But it’s not true that it’s free. Paying for those unable to pay or obtain insurance themselves is part of the problem, not the solution.
That’s the Rev. Al Sharpton and Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota. Joe Lhota, along with Bill de Blasio and many other elected officials and candidates, went to the National Action Network’s House of Justice to celebrate Rev. Sharpton’s birthday. (Lhota had visited the House of Justice for a private meeting with Rev. Sharpton about three weeks ago – our report is here.) Here’s Rev. Sharpton introducing Lhota and Lhota’s full presentation.
Joe Lhota went on the attack against Bill de Blasio today, as a new Quinnipiac poll showed de Blasio with an enormous lead.
Dana Rubenstein of Capital New York asked Lhota for his view of how Governor Cuomo’s newly announced tax commission, with the assigned mission of finding taxes to cut, affects de Blasio’s signature proposal of funding universal pre-K with an increased income tax on high earners. Lhota responded by launching into a harsh critique of de Blasio as “essentially a political hack who has no no plans for the future”, and characterizing de Blasio’s stated lack of a “Plan B” if his tax proposal does not received needed state legislative/gubernatorial approval as showing “management immaturity.”
Today Bill de Blasio continued seeking to define Joe Lhota as part and parcel of the radical wing currently dominating the national Republicans, the Tea Party House Republicans. de Blasio has been hitting that theme for a few days, seeking to define Lhota at a moment where Lhota is still fairly unknown and the Tea Party House Republicans, as the deeply unpopular face of the Republican political brand, are in the national spotlight.
Yesterday, Lhota tried to avoid being linked to the House Republicans, condemning them for the federal government shutdown and calling it “outrageous and wrong”. He also described the Tea Party as a “bad force” in the Republican Party.
Today, responding to a question from Politicker’sRoss Barkan, de Blasio continued his effort, describing the current Republican Party as “a very right wing party” and saying of Lhota that “if you’re a member of the Republican Party, you’re buying into the whole idea.” Team de Blasio smells political blood, and appears focused on framing this city race through the lens of Washington shutdown politics.
Today Joe Lhota responded to reporters’ questions about the federal government shutdown by condemning the shutdown and the House Republicans, describing the shutdown as “flat out wrong.” Lhota also more broadly condemned the Tea Party and it’s influence on the Republican Party.
When I asked about the paradox of condemning the Tea Party but receiving large amounts of money from one of the Tea Party’s most prominent financial backers, David Koch, Lhota responded strongly. He noted Koch’s many philanthropic endeavors and said that he, like Koch and Bill de Blasio, believes in abortion rights and marriage equality. Lhota also pointed to Andrew Cuomo having received (according to Lhota) $81,000 from Koch and his wife, asserting that taking Koch’s money did not make Lhota any more of a tea party supporter than doing so made Andrew Cuomo a tea party supporter.
Topping the list of challenges facing Joe Lhota is his own party’s unity and support. While rival Bill de Blasio has methodically pulled his former rivals and their supporters onto his bandwagon, Lhota has had less success in uniting Republicans. Republicans are, of course, vastly outnumbered in New York City and even a unified party falls far short of what Lhota needs to win, but it’s a basic building block that Lhota has not yet put into place.
Since the primary de Blasio has received the public support of his top three Democratic primary rivals (Bill Thompson, Chris Quinn and John Liu), while also receiving the endorsement of three Democratic county organizations (Bronx, Queens and Manhattan) that did not support him in the primary. In contrast, Lhota has not received the endorsement of either of his primary rivals John Catsimatidis or George McDonald, and has only received a few additional public endorsements, with George Pataki, State Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos and New York County Chairman Dan Isaacs among them. Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro (who is a Conservative Party, not Republican Party, member and who endorsed Christine Quinn in the primary) has also endorsed Lhota.
Queens County is a stark illustration of Lhota’s challenge. The County Republican organization supported John Catsimatidis in the primary and appears unlikely to actively support Lhota. It’s split into two factions, one led by Chairman Phil Ragusa (supporting Catsimatidis) and the other composed of a mix of people bitterly opposed to Ragusa, including Council Member Eric Ulrich and former council member Tom Ognibene, as well as the now infamous John Haggerty and his brother Bart. Ragusa appears to have just won re-election as chairman over challenger, and former congressman, Bob Turner, whom Lhota supported. At a Friday press conference, Politicker’s Ross Barkan (who closely follows and reports on Queens politics) asked Lhota about the leadership battle, and Lhota responded with the following harsh critique of “Comrade Ragusa”. Based on Lhota’s comments, it appears that Queens County Republican Committee support for Lhota is, shall we say, not imminent.
(Note that the questions were at a press conference held before the vote for county chairman was completed. It’s subsequently been unofficially reported that Ragusa won re-election in Friday’s vote.)
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