After weeks of making little headway in the mayor's race, Republican Joseph Lhota could get a major boost thanks to a new federal court ruling. For now, he continues to focus on the issue of public safety. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
Joseph Lhota called gains in public safety "fragile" Thursday, and he used a Brooklyn neighborhood to illustrate his point.
In the East Flatbush neighborhood, he said, crime has spiked, with 57 robberies in the past month, He re-asserted his campaign theme that Bill de Blasio's policies could take us backwards.
"Anybody who believes that the crime dropping in New York is permanent is deluding themselves," he said.
Meanwhile, in a radio interview, de Blasio was asked about his response in Tuesday night's debate when asked if he'd remove pedestrian plazas in Times Square and Herald Square.
"For me, the jury's out on that particular question," he said in the debate.
On Thursday, he seemed to backtrack.
"My experience, which includes my experience as a motorist, is, we need to look again and see if those are configured as well as they could be, and I think we may find there's some improvements we can make," he said. "The core concept of pedestrian plazas, I'm absolutely committed to."
Lhota's campaign may have gotten a shot in the arm Thursday when a federal appeals court suspended New York’s $150,000 annual limit on political contributions. That paves the way for Republican donors to pour hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars into outside groups who will spend on Lhota's behalf.
Responding immediately with a web ad, the de Blasio campaign said that'll allow right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers to drown out the voices of New Yorkers.
"Don't let the Koch brothers buy this election," the ad says.
Terry Pell, one of the attorneys who brought the lawsuit, called that absurd.
"Mr. de Blasio enjoys a great financial advantage, a great advantage in name recognition, and is 50 points ahead in the polls," Pell said. "So whatever independent expenditures are made in support of Mr. Lhota's campaign, it is highly unlikely that they are going to swamp Mr. de Blasio in any way, shape or form."
In fact, independent groups have so far spent more in support of de Blasio this election cycle — about $363,000 — than on Lhota, though that could well change in the next two weeks.