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Lhota furious over de Blasio 'ducking' debates

GOP mayoral candidate Joe Lhota had challenged Bill de Blasio to weekly debates in all five boroughs. De Blasio agreed to only three in Manhattan.

Republican candidate for mayor Joe Lhota challenged his opponent, Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio, to weekly debates citywide. Credit: Anna Sanders Republican candidate for mayor Joe Lhota challenged his opponent, Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio, to weekly debates citywide.
Credit: Anna Sanders

Joe Lhota's mayoral campaign had some choice words for his Democratic opponent Bill de Blasio on Tuesday.

De Blasio's camp released a statement announcing the heavy frontrunner would participate in three general election debates, "the largest number of debates held in a New York City mayoral general election since 1985."

That is one additional on top of the two debates required by the Campaign Finance Board.

But GOP candidate Lhota had only days ago challenged de Blasio to a weekly debate in every borough. The two CFB-required debates are pre-scheduled in Manhattan.

De Blasio agreed to be in a third debate also in Manhattan, on Oct. 15 on Columbus Avenue. That debate will be hosted by WABC-TV, Noticias Univision 41, NY Daily News, and the NYC League of Women Voters. The two CFB-required debates will be on Oct. 22 at the CUNY Graduate Center and Oct. 29 at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

It may have come as a surprise to some that de Blasio, who has been running on a "Tale of Two Cities" platform calling out the inequality that exists throughout the five boroughs, would pass up the opportunity to reach outer-borough voters in such weekly debates — which the Lhota campaign was quick to highlight.

"It is incredibly disappointing that Mr. de Blasio does not appreciate the need to hold debates outside Manhattan when New Yorkers in all five boroughs deserve the chance to learn more about the next mayor," Lhota spokeswoman Jessica Proud said in a statement. "Trumpeting their agreement to a single debate beyond what is required by the campaign finance law as historic is a joke."

De Blasio has incurred criticism of late over his apparent avoidance of reporters since his boost in popularity, and Proud was quick to point to that as well, saying the campaign's "strategy of ducking the press and public since winning the nomination will grow weary on New Yorkers who want to see leadership from their next mayor."

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat

 
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