New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Democratic mayoral hopeful Sal Albanese will return to the debate stage Wednesday night, for a final bout before next Tuesday’s primary election.
De Blasio, who has outpaced Albanese in polling numbers and fundraising dollars, found himself largely on the defensive during a debate with his long shot rival last month. Albanese, a former city councilman from Brooklyn who left office in 1996, said Tuesday he hoped the second televised debate would provide him with another platform to raise his profile among voters ahead of the Sept. 12 election.
“I’m hoping viewers will see that I’m ready for the job . . . we’ve had some great momentum since the first debate and I’m looking to build on that,” Albanese said in a phone interview, noting that the 7 p.m. debate will air on CBS2 News, making it more accessible than the first debate that aired on the cable news station NY1.
Albanese who took jabs at de Blasio’s record throughout the first debate, said he was hoping their second face-to-face exchange gave both candidates more time to detail their plans to address the city’s subway woes and growing affordable housing crisis.
De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan said in an email: “The Mayor is taking this debate very seriously, and he’s happy for an opportunity to talk about his record of results making New York City stronger, fairer and more affordable for all.”
De Blasio’s opponents in the primary include police activist Robert Gangi, attorney Richard Bashner and Michael Tolkin, the CEO of an upstart virtual reality technology firm, but they failed to qualify for the debate under the city Campaign Finance Board’s rules that mandate candidates raise and spend at least $174,000 in campaign contributions.
Albanese has raised about $192,000 since launching his campaign last December, compared to the $4.8 million de Blasio has amassed since April 2014, according to campaign finance records.
A July 27 poll conducted by Baruch College and NY1 news found that among Democrats, 57 percent would vote for de Blasio, with 3.5 percent picking Albanese.
Despite the polling lead, de Blasio successfully argued to the city’s campaign finance board earlier this month that his campaign should receive an additional $1.6 million in public matching funds, saying the race was indeed competitive. The board was initially set to give the mayor $958,000 based on a formula for noncompetitive races.