Democratic candidate for mayor Bill de Blasio tried to sell business leaders on his plan to tax the wealthy to fund pre-K and after-school programs and comes as another poll shows he has a commanding lead over Republican candidate Joe Lhota. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
Bill de Blasio faced a potentially tough audience Friday: A room heavy on business leaders at an Association for a Better New York breakfast. But he stuck to his campaign theme of growing inequality, and defended his proposed tax hike on the wealthy to fund pre-K and after school programs.
"There’s nothing divisive about acknowledging the struggle that so many New Yorkers face. It’s not class warfare. As my old boss Bill Clinton would say, it’s arithmetic," De Blasio said.
Still, De Blasio clearly tailored his message to the audience. Gone was the Bloomberg-bashing of the Democratic primary.
But where Bloomberg helped diversify the economy, De Blasio said, he wants more jobs in the tech sector, for instance, to go to New Yorkers. And rezonings, he said, should result in more than just luxury housing.
"We will require, not simply encourage--require--the production of affordable housing," De Blasio said.
Observers said if the goal was to broaden his message, he succeeded.
"This is not running for the democratic nomination. This is running to be mayor. And I thought it was a very, kind of embracing speech," said NYU Professor Mitchell Moss.
Whatever he’s doing seems to be working. A New York Times/Siena College poll Friday gave de Blasio a 49-point lead over Republican Joe Lhota, with Independence Party candidate Adolfo Carrion a distant third.
When broken down by racial lines, de Blasio leads Lhota among black voters 89 percent to two percent, Hispanic voters 79 percent to nine percent, and white voters 55 percent to 33 percent.
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, also found 62 percent of likely voters support keeping Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in place.
De Blasio has said he would replace Kelly if elected mayor. But 70 percent also said they favor the creation of an independent inspector general for the NYPD.
"The people would overwhelmingly want to keep Ray Kelly. I do, Bill doesn't. They overwhelmingly like charter schools. Bill wants to close them all down," Lhota told CNBC's "Squawk On The Street".
Friday’s event drew an unusually large crowd of close to 800. By comparison, only about 300 have reserved spots so far for a similar breakfast next week featuring Republican candidate Joe Lhota.