Attention on Bill de Blasio at First Official Dem Debate

By Kristen Meriwether
Kristen Meriwether
Kristen Meriwether
Journalist
August 22, 2013 Updated: August 22, 2013

NEW YORK—The storyline of the day in the mayoral race was the back and forth exchanges between Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio’s campaigns. However, it was not the storyline of the night’s first official Democratic mayoral debate. 

An uproar had ensued over comments de Blasio’s wife made about Quinn related to child-raising, that were misquoted in a New York Times story released Aug. 21 morning, resulting in misunderstandings, video proof, and a correction by NY Times. 

In fact, the news items came up only one time, when moderator Errol Louis from NY1 asked the two candidates to comment on the issue.

Both de Blasio and Quinn reiterate many of the same comments they had made earlier in the day, which took only roughly three minutes of the 90-minute debate.

While the candidates chose to stay away from that contentious topic, de Blasio did find himself finishing out the day playing defense. A persistent barrage of attacks, which up until this point had been reserved primarily for Quinn, flew his way, especially during the portion of the debate in which candidates had to ask other candidates questions.

The candidate Q&A had an interesting mix, with Bill Thompson and Quinn tag-teaming de Blasio on his recent advertisement in which he claims he is the only candidate who will end racial discrimination with stop and frisk.

De Blasio defended his ad—twice—and explained his position—twice. 

In one of the more bizarre moments, Anthony Weiner, who mostly stood by idly, almost bored watching the other candidates get volumes more airtime, asked Quinn, who is also City Council speaker, about a secret reserve fund created by Council without oversight. Weiner asked if de Blasio’s name was on a report that would implicate him in the slush fund scandal. 

Quinn, who had spent most of the day speaking about how sad she was about comments coming from the de Blasio camp, defended the public advocate, calling Weiner’s claim outrageous, but never directly answering the question.

This mayoral race is ever evolving, and the shifts were ever evident at the debate. Anthony Weiner, whose candidacy has rocked the boat the most during this campaign season, was almost a non-factor: no candidates asked him questions, and when he tried to attack, it backfired.

Based on the attacks de Blasio received, it is apparent his competitors view him as the leader, a first for this campaign.

There is just under three weeks until the Sept. 10 primary, and the stage appears to be set for a Quinn, de Blasio, Thompson showdown, right to the wire. But if this campaign has taught us nothing, it is that anything can happen. Stay tuned.

Kristen Meriwether
Kristen Meriwether
Journalist