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De Blasio, Lhota Celebrate Italian Heritage At Columbus Day Parade

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One thing we know for sure about our city's next mayor is that he'll very likely be part Italian, and both the Democratic and Republican candidates marched up Fifth Avenue in Monday's Columbus Day Parade, celebrating their Italian heritage and angling for any possible advantage with just three weeks left until election day. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

From one Italian to another, Governor Andrew Cuomo seemed to give Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio a rousing endorsement Monday.

"Mayor Bill de Blasio! Let's give him a round of applause," Cuomo said.

For all the warm feelings, though, Cuomo also offered praise for de Blasio's opponent, Republican Joseph Lhota, who served under him as MTA chairman.

Cuomo declined to say whether de Blasio is better qualified.

"I worked with them both. I've worked with them in different capacities," Cuomo said. "I'm supporting Bill de Blasio for mayor, and I'm doing that unequivocally. But the people will now make their decision."

If polls are to be believed, de Blasio won't need much help. At a Columbus Day Parade thick with elected officials, both current and hopeful, de Blasio, who's Italian on his mother's side, was a star attraction, marching alongside the rest of the Democratic ticket, public advocate candidate Letitia James and comptroller candidate Scott Stringer.

"We call ourselves the dream team," de Blasio said, laughing. "I don't know."
Lhota, who also has some Italian heritage, was also marching in the parade on Monday, the same day he launched a new ad attacking de Blasio for his stance on charter schools. He believes it's a winning issue.

"Charter schools are wanted by the majority of New Yorkers," Lhota said. "My opponent, during the entire Democratic primary, did nothing but say he wanted to destroy the charter school movement."

De Blasio said that that misrepresents his position, but he's clear that his focus will be on the 95 percent of students in traditional public schools.

"I won't favor charter schools as the Bloomberg administration did," de Blasio said.

Expect more sparks, and fewer flags, to fly at their first debate Tuesday night.

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