The Democratic candidates for mayor will face off Wednesday night on NY1 for the first official televised debate of the primary, and the reshaping of the contest in its final weeks may cause some new sparks to fly in front of a live audience. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
For months, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has been the candidate to beat at debates. As the front-runner in the Democratic primary for mayor, she has faced repeated attacks from her rivals.
"The Speaker refuses to apologize for overturning the will of the people, for the slush fund scandal," Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner said at a debate last week that aired at WABC.
"Speaker Quinn, don't insult our intelligence," Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio said on June 19.
As primary day gets closer, though, the dynamic of the race is shifting. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is surging ahead in the polls, and Quinn may find she has a chance to catch her breath during Wednesday night's debate, which will air live on NY1. Or, she could find that the attacks against her are not letting up.
"Speaker Quinn opposed living wage legislation every step of the way," Democratic mayoral candidate John Liu said at the WABC debate last week.
Quinn's support for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has hurt her with some Democratic voters, and a federal judge's ruling that the department's stop-and-frisk practice is unconstitutional is drawing more attention to her stated willingness to keep Kelly on in a Quinn administration. It is a subject sure to surface in the debate.
"Speaker Quinn, further, has said she would keep the same police commissioner in place, and she opposes a legal ban on racial profiling," de Blasio said on August 12.
The debate could also showcase de Blasio on the hot seat for the first time in a televised debate. Quinn is already sharpening her attacks against the man who could be her biggest obstacle to winning the primary.
Some Quinn supporters took aim at him this week, accusing de Blasio of being a political opportunist who only tried to save troubled hospitals after launching his bid for mayor.
The message got lost, though, after a protester hit two of Quinn's supporters at the event.
It is the latest sign of just how heated this mayoral battle has become.
Democratic Mayoral Debate On NY1
The 90-minute debate between the Democratic candidates for mayor will air at 7 p.m. Wednesday night on NY1 and NY1 Noticias with Spanish interpretation. The debate will also be streamed live on NY1.com and NY1noticias.com with no login required. A half-hour analysis show will air on NY1 following the debate.