Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota spar during first televised debate in mayor’s race

bill de blasio joe lhota debate
Republican candidate Joe Lhota and Democrat Bill de Blasio faced off during the first televised debate in the race for mayor Tuesday night.
Credit: James Keivom-Pool/Getty Images

Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota faced off during the first televised debate in the race for mayor Tuesday night.

“I think Mr. Lhota should be straight-up with us about the fact that he does subscribe to the national Republican Party,” de Blasio said in one of the first slams during the debate.

“Do not lump me with the national Republicans. It’s unbecoming,” Lhota replied, noting he supports marriage equality and is pro-choice.

Lhota, former MTA chairman, spent much of the debate fielding attacks from de Blasio about his connection to the Tea Party.

Though the candidates agreed on the major issues facing the next administration — such as housing unaffordabiity and education — their solutions often toed the party lines.

Lhota and de Blasio agreed that unused property could be turned into more affordable housing units, but the former doesn’t support mandatory inclusionary housing.

To close the achievement gap in city schools, Lhota said he would increase training for teachers, while de Blasio said this issue should be addressed by focusing on the students, taking an opportunity to tout his plan for universal pre-K.

Though he denied Lhota had more experience managing a large budget, de Blasio repeatedly mentioned Lhota’s time as deputy mayor for Rudy Giuliani, painting himself as the candidate for “real progressive change.”

Lhota attempted to hijack this message in his closing remarks while defending his time under Giuliani.

“This election is not about the past,” Lhota said, before reminding viewers of his name.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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