The latter half of tonight’s Democratic public advocate debate seemed to devote an inordinate amount of time to death, especially the hypothetical passing of Mayor Bloomberg—God forbid, as they say.
During Dominic Carter’s trademark “yes/no” section, Jay Golub, Betsy Gotbaum, Andrew Rasiej, and Norman Siegel were asked if they would perform gay marriages should they ascend to the mayoralty (Golub was the only “no”), if they would run in the special election to succeed they mayor if he left before his term expired (only Gotbaum said “yes”) and if they could do a better job than the mayor (they all agreed they could). During her closing statement Gotbaum announced that, should the mayor fail to show up at work one day, she’d be “uniquely qualified to assume the post.”
The theme of death was picked up by Andrew Rasiej, whose closing statement told the story of a community center in his ancestral Polish town that his grandfather had helped to construct. “My grandfather,” Rasiej continued, “was killed in World War II with 15,000 other Polish officers with his hands tied behind his back, but he’d proud to know his grandson . . .” was running for public advocate.
The death talk was a departure from the rest of the debate, in which incumbent Gotbaum was put on the defensive as her challengers accused her of playing doormat to Bloomberg’s muddy boot. Firing back, she accused Siegel of “running for public adversary rather than public advocate.” Siegel noted that Gotbaum had used the same line in 2001. “It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now,” says Norm.
“Well,” Gotbaum replies, “I won.” Lincoln and Douglas, eat your hearts out!
Meanwhile, Rasiej’s signs—with his compelling fist-full-o-lightning logo—are up all over the place, from downtown to Washington Heights to Inwood to Flushing. In a race that won’t get a lot of press between now and September 13, in which simply seeing a candidate’s name might weigh heavily, Rasiej’s name is everywhere. Let’s hope we all live to Primary Day to see what happens.