Viewers who watched Wednesday night’s Channel 4 mayoral debate and tuned in again to tonight’s WABC version might be forgiven for thinking they had lapsed into déjà vu. Five days before the primary, these candidates’ stock lines are well-known, and at times Thursday’s event exactly echoed the previous one.
Ferrer knows about the importance of affordable housing because he grew up poor. Weiner disagrees with Freddy on using a stock transfer tax to pay for the city’s share of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity judgment. Miller is the only one that has “made the tough choices” required for crafting budgets, and remains deeply concerned about our blood pressure. Fields believes the city hasn’t publicized its emergency response plans. It’s like Groundhog Day.
Despite the late date and the number of stages these candidates have shared, there was new ground covered Thursday night. Weiner was unable to cite a vote he’d cast in Congress to cut government waste. Asked if his low-key campaign signaled that he didn’t really want to be mayor, Ferrer declared, “I have enough fire in my belly to melt concrete,” and pointed to rising poverty and “a half a million children with hunger in their belly. A serious person has to do it, and that’s why I’m running.” Fields pronounced proudly that “I’m the only candidate who is not talking about cutting taxes” and pointed to her Citizens Union endorsement. A more aggressive Miller jumped in forcefully on how to fund the CFE decision (“Sometimes you have to step in and get it done.”) and using a single test to decide if schoolkids stay back (“Yes, I’ll repeal it.”). And guess what? They all give to panhandlers.
Thursday’s was the last debate before the primary, meaning it’s the last time we’ll see these four on stage together. The next primetime matchup will involve only two candidates. The only question is whether Mike Bloomberg is there, or a runoff places two Dems on stage again.