NEW YORK—Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio chose to attend a “reception with supporters” instead of attending a mayoral debate on Wednesday night, according to his campaign.
The debate, which was not required by Campaign Finance Board rules, was hosted by NY1 and featured Republican candidate Joe Lhota and Independent candidate Adolfo Carrion Jr.
De Blasio, who has a healthy 50 point lead in the most recent polls, declined the invitation. Both his opponents chided him for not participating in the debate.
“It is unfortunate he wants to diss the people of the City of New York this way,” Lhota said following the debate on Wednesday night. “It would have been better if we would have had Bill de Blasio here. The rose garden strategy doesn’t work when you don’t get your vision across.”
Carrion, who has not seen much time with his fellow candidates, said the more debates, the better.
“Having Bill not come sends a message to the voters he is not going to answer questions because he doesn’t want to make mistakes because he has such a big lead,” Carrion said.
On Thursday at an event where he received an endorsement from several women’s groups, de Blasio defended the no-show.
“By agreeing to three televised debates, we are having the most televised debates of any mayoral general election since 1981,” de Blasio said.
He has taken heat in the weeks since the primary for hosting less public events, and taking less time answering questions from the media. De Blasio has defended his availability saying he has public events every day.