Mayor Bill de Blasio faced challengers State Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis and retired NYPD detective/Arby's commercial star Bo Dietl last night in the first big debate for the upcoming mayoral election. And though the debate didn't shed much light on policy specifics, it was absolutely the most entertaining 90 minutes in politics since 2016's Republican presidential primary debates. Maybe that's not such a good thing. But I digress.
Yesterday, we pondered what exactly the candidates would yell at about at last night's debate, held at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side and moderated by an impressively patient Errol Louis. The answer, it appeared, was everything, at least in Dietl's case. Right out of the gate, the independent candidate started yelling about the Yankees ("MAYOR DE BLASIO IS A RED SOX FAN!"), and he did not stop yelling, even after Louis finally cut his mic toward the debate's end. Dietl yelled about homelessness: "PENN STATION IS HOMELESS ALL OVER!"
Dietl yelled about income inequality: "IF I HAD MY HEAD IN A POTATO FIELD AND I POPPED IT OUT AND LISTENED TO THIS MAYOR I'D SAY, 'I'D VOTE FOR HIM TOO.' BUT WE GOT FOUR YEARS AND HE'S GOT NOTHING. HE'S PROMISED EVERYTHING. TALE OF TWO CITIES. LET'S BE REAL, DO YOU THINK THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK ARE IDIOTS OUT THERE? THEY KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. YOU'RE A GOOD SPEAKER, YOU WENT TO COLLEGE, GOD BLESS YOU, BUT YOU GOT NOTHING."
Dietl yelled about de Blasio riding the subway: "IF HE WORKED FOR ME, I WOULD FIRE HIM TOMORROW. HE WENT ON THE SUBWAY ONCE. HE STOPPED THE TRAINS AND HE GOT ALL THE HOMELESS OFF AND WE SAW HIS WHOLE MEMO."
Dietl yelled about Rikers Island: "I'M A DIFFERENT PERSON I EVOLVED NOW I'M COMPASSIONATE ABOUT KIDS IN THE CITY. HE HIRED THAT NINCOMPOOP PONTE FROM MAINE, THAT GUY WAS GUARDING SOME MOOSES UP THERE."
Dietl yelled about school segregation: "FIRST THINGS I WOULD DO IS BAN THE DAMN CELL PHONES FROM THE CLASSROOM. LET KIDS LEARN." Dietl yelled about the security fence constructed outside the mayor's house: "WHAT IS THAT FREAKIN' WALL YOU PUT UP AROUND GRACIE MANSION? WHAT ARE WE HIDING? IS THAT THE BERLIN WALL?"
Dietl yelled about some "not" racist things he's said in the recent past: "YOU'RE WRONG ON THAT WHAT YOU JUST SAID. ALL I SAID WAS THE JUDGE WAS VERY FAMILIAR-LOOKING AS THE MAYOR'S WIFE, WITH TWO BEAUTIFUL EYES AND A SMILE AND THEY LOOKED VERY SIMILAR. I NEVER USED THE WORD AFRICAN-AMERICAN, SO HOW DARE YOU USE THAT."
And Dietl made time to yell about Donald Trump, for whom he voted, regrettably: "DONALD TRUMP I KNEW 35 YEARS, I VOTED FOR HIM. AND I'M SORRY I DID VOTE FOR HIM. BUT RIGHT NOW HE IS THE PRESIDENT. IF I BECOME MAYOR OF NEW YORK I GOTTA GO SEE HIM. I CALLED HIM, IT WAS IN YOUR NEWSPAPERS, A LYING NARCISSIST, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT HE IS."
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) October 10, 2017
Trump actually came up quite a bit last night. De Blasio, likely aware that his comfortable position in the polls is in part thanks to a largely liberal city's fear of what might happen should a more conservative mayor come to power with Trump in the White House, made sure to remind viewers that his opponents supported the man. "Sometimes there are elections where people feel that the candidates are all alike. You're not going to have that problem this time," de Blasio said in his opening remarks. "My two opponents are right-wing Republicans who voted for Donald Trump."
De Blasio hit on Republican Malliotakis's Trump support several other times in the debate, including reminding the audience she tried to stop the city from deleting records from the IDNYC program that could be used by the federal government to identify undocumented immigrants, and asking her if she thought Trump was good for New York. For her part, Malliotakis hit back, telling de Blasio the mayoral election "is not about Donald Trump" and to "stop trying to deflect from your lousy record as mayor."
De Blasio also brought up some of his more successful policies as mayor, including the popular universal Pre-K and (soon) 3-K program and touting the city's record-low crime rates. He outlined his five-year plan to create 90 new homeless shelters in neighborhoods around the city, reiterated his controversial plan to create or preserve 2000,000 affordable housing units, and championed the millionaire tax idea that he wants Albany to pass to fund subway improvements.
Malliotakis took the mayor to task on what she said was de Blasio's unfulfilled pledge to uplift the city's middle class ("If you look at the real tale of two cities it's that his friends and donors have gotten richer while the rest of us continue to struggle," she said), the high cost of many new affordable housing units, and the cost of some of the city's infrastructure programs ("Why does it cost $2 million to build a bathroom in Brooklyn?" she asked. "Why was it $6 million to convert a building for 18 kids, three times over budget?")
Still, she went into the debate trailing de Blasio in the polls by over 45 points, and though she certainly seemed like the saner second choice next to Dietl, she didn't do much to raise her profile.
As for who won last night's debate, well, that's obvious.
— Jose Martinez (@JMartinezNYC) October 10, 2017
— J.D. Durkin (@jiveDurkey) October 11, 2017
— Andrew Jerell Jones (@sluggahjells) October 11, 2017
— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) October 11, 2017
The moderator at the mayoral debate, Errol Louis, just accused one of the candidates, Bo Dietl, of "foolishness."
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) October 10, 2017
— Laura Nahmias (@nahmias) October 11, 2017
Errol 4 Mayor.
— Rachel Eve Stein (@RachelEveStein) October 11, 2017