On August 23, NY1 will host the first Democratic mayoral primary debate between Mayor Bill de Blasio and former City Councilman Sal Albanese. But one of de Blasio's challengers is blaming the mayor for his exclusion from the debate. Political Reporter Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Mayor de Blasio and Sal Albanese will face-off on NY1 on Wednesday night for the first debate of the mayor's race.
"I think New Yorkers are looking for an alternative to de Blasio," Albanese said. "Everywhere I go, I hear negative comments."
For Albanese, a former city councilman from Brooklyn, he's hoping the debate is a game-changer — a chance to give his under-the-radar bid for City Hall a boost.
"Our campaign hasn't gotten the attention that it should receive, and now we are going to get it, and people are going to see there's a real difference," Albanese said.
Five names are slated to be on the Democratic ballot next month. But only two — de Blasio and Albanese — raised enough money to qualify for the Campaign Finance Board debate, which requires candidates to have raised and spent close to $175,000.
"I think people want to hear what I have to say, and when they do they are very excited," said Richard Bashner. "But they will not get a chance if I am not at that debate."
Bashner is a lawyer and Brooklyn Community Board member running in the Democratic primary for City Hall. He notes that four years ago, the debate stage for the Democratic primary was a crowded one.
But late last year, the mayor signed into law changes to the debate rules.
Now, candidates are required to raise more money to participate. The city's Campaign Finance Board asked the mayor to make that change.
"The mayor has engaged in self-dealing," Bashner said.
"Under Mayor de Blasio crime is at record lows, jobs are at record highs, and New York City is building affordable housing at a record pace. We are happy for any opportunity to talk about the Mayor's record and we look forward to debating whoever the CFB and debate sponsors decide to include," said Dan Levitan, a spokesman for the mayor's campaign.
Bob Gangi, a police reform activist, and Mike Tolkin, an entrepreneur, are also running in the Democratic primary.
A spokesman for the city's Campaign Finance Board said they pushed for the new law to ensure that voters hear a robust debate from candidates who have demonstrated they have public support.