John Burnett last night followed an old rule in boxing: when you're challenging a heavily-favored heavyweight, swing away.
The Republican candidate for City Comptroller relentlessly went on the attack against Democrat Stringer, calling him a "government hack" and even questioning whether the Manhattan Borough President sold his soul in a political deal. (How do you fact check that one?)
Sighing like Al Gore in the 2000 presidential debates, Burnett lorded his Wall Street credentials over Stringer, trying to reveal that he didn't know how investments work and even telling him at one point that he's a "failure" for not attending pension board meetings.
Stringer avoided the vitriol, deferring to his family about the presence of his soul: "I don’t think we have to comment on my soul. It seems to be in good shape. My wife thinks so.”
Stringer mostly ducked Burnett's punches; his own main point of attack was linking Burnett to the budget stalemate in Washington D.C.: "What do you say to the people of New York City today when your party is shutting down the government and trying to put urban America out of business? "
Burnett wanted to avoid being tarred with the GOP label, somewhat bizarrely saying it's as unfair as if people said Stringer was a pervert because of the bad behavior of his fellow Democrats, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer.
In the end, it was an interesting and weird debate which would have been even more bizarre had Spitzer been the Democratic nominee.
And speaking of debates, NY1 tonight is hosting a mayoral debate with WNYC, Capital NY, Gothamist, and Citizens Union – but Bill de Blasio is planning on skipping it.
As The Times' Andy Newman notes: " Mr. de Blasio could still change his mind about tonight. His public schedule shows nothing after 9:40 a.m."
Here's hoping that de Blasio strolls out of his rose garden to talk to our viewers and face off against Joe Lhota and Adolfo Carrion.