Down 40-plus points in the polls, Republican mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota wants to face off more often against his rival, Bill de Blasio, and on Thursday, Lhota proposed debating once a week until the general election in November. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Joseph Lhota needs to get New Yorkers' attention. After all, he's down 40-plus points in the polls.
"These are early polls," he said. "I expected to be in this position. I'm not worried."
So he said Thursday that he and his Democratic rival should debate more.
"I have called upon Bill de Blasio, the Democratic nominee, to have these debates. I'd like to have them weekly. I'd like to have them in all boroughs," Lhota said. "I think it's important that we go out to the people."
The front-runner, Bill de Blasio, didn't exactly accept the challenge.
"We're going to work it out with the Lhota campaign, whatever model it is," he said. "It's not my place to say today what it'll be. I guarantee there'll be a good number of debates. I look forward to 'em."
There are already two debates sponsored by the city's Campaign Finance Board, but Lhota said that the additional debates are necessary to highlight the differences between his platform and de Blasio's, like on taxing the rich.
"I don't believe for one second that raising taxes will make the city a better place," Lhota said. "These folks, especially those that are very, very wealthy, can leave in a second."
It's a message he was trying to get out Thursday morning on his home turf.
Lhota also said he is reaching out to leaders across the city. Some have been more receptive to meeting with him than others.
Lhota: Why don't you ask Michael Mulgrew why he hasn't returned any of the phone calls I have left for him?
Q: You have left phone calls?
Lhota: Yes, I have. I wouldn't say that if I didn't.
"I've heard his positions on education and on the union, which I am fortunate enough to be president for, and I don't think a meeting would be very fruitful," Mulgrew said Wednesday.
On Thursday, Mulgrew changed his mind. A spokesman for the teachers' union said a sit-down was in the works.