Tonight's the night, the big first debate for the mayoral election that everyone has definitely been enthralled by. Setting aside one man's threats to starve himself if he's not included in the debate, it's been a sleepy election season, but it's still worth seeing how Mayor Bill de Blasio stands up under fire from his challengers, Republican Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis and independent Arby's pitchman Bo Dietl. And to make sure you're up on what to talk about at the bar while the debate is on, here's a quick preview for you.
De Blasio is comfortably in the driver's seat for his re-election bid, with a 61 percent to 17 percent lead over Malliotakis, and Sal Albanese and Dietl getting 8 percent and 6 percent respectively.
While the even money is on Malliotakis and Dietl teaming up on de Blasio, it's not as if the two of them are happy to see each other. Malliotakis told Gotham Gazette that Dietl is only on stage "to promote his upcoming movie, where he plays being mayor," which shows she's more up to date on Dietl's acting career than anyone else in New York City. Dietl, on the other hand has confronted Malliotakis at the Steuben Day Parade and suggested her ballot petition signatures were fraudulent.
More than a frank exchange of ideas and policy, people are wondering more if Malliotakis or Dietl can turn de Blasio from a dude standing above the fray into the lecturing off-putting prick he can sometimes be. That's because, as Politico points out, no one is exactly proposing huge new ideas on how to govern a city where crime is down, the sea levels aren't swallowing us (yet) and 58 percent of voters approve of the way de Blasio is running the city. Malliotakis will most likely try to hammer de Blasio on the city's homelessness crisis, but her own plans to mitigate the crisis weren't exactly greeted with laurels and parades by advocates for the homeless.
Also, look for Donald Trump to come up at some point, or maybe even multiple points, seeing as how de Blasio has used Malliotakis's vote for the president as a cudgel starting from day one of the general election campaign. Malliotakis said she'd take back her Trump vote if she could, but also jumped into the fight over kneeling during the national anthem on the "kneeling is bad" side.
Oh and Bo Dietl might say something completely insane, which no political reporter will tell you they're hoping for, but they're absolutely hoping for it. Anyway, it all goes down at 7 p.m. tonight at Symphony Space, and will air on NY1, NY1 Noticias and WNYC. Tune in or give it a listen, unless of course you're really invested in seeing who wins the Nats/Cubs game tonight.