New York City mayoral candidates will square off Thursday night in the first official Democratic debate of the race and are expected to spar over how best to lead the city’s economic recovery and to stem a rise in violent crime.
Twelve Democratic candidates will appear on ballots for the June 22 primary, but only eight qualified for the debate, which will be televised at 7 p.m. on NY1 and aired on WNYC public radio. A Republican mayoral debate featuring Curtis Sliwa and Fernando Mateo will be held later this month.
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The outcome of the Democratic primary will most likely determine who succeeds term-limited Mayor
Bill de Blasio,
as Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly six to one in the city. The next mayor will oversee the city’s emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 32,000 New Yorkers and led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The city’s recovery and rising crime are top concerns for voters, according to recent polls. Shootings and homicides have surged during the pandemic. Many candidates recently outlined their platforms on policing and anticrime measures after a shooting in Times Square on Saturday in which three bystanders, including a 4-year-old girl, were hit by stray bullets.
The mayoral primary will be the first time ranked-choice voting is used citywide. The new system, which was approved in a ballot initiative in 2019, aims to make elections more democratic, allowing voters to list five candidates in preferential order.
Some elected officials, including Mr. de Blasio, have voiced concern that voters don’t understand the system and aren’t familiar with most candidates because they have been preoccupied by the Covid-19 crisis. This campaign season is also shorter than previous election cycles because the primary was moved to June from September to match federal elections.
“It’s a different kind of election than we’ve experienced, because so much of it has been overshadowed by the Covid crisis,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said last month.
Recent polls have shown former presidential candidate and tech entrepreneur
and Brooklyn Borough President
with slight leads over the other Democratic candidates in the primary. However, many voters remain undecided, according to the polls. Some have said they were waiting for a debate before choosing which candidate to support. Others have said they are just starting to pay attention to the race now.
Dozens of virtual forums and panels have been held with Democratic candidates. Thursday’s debate will give voters the opportunity to see the top contenders question each other over their campaign platforms and qualifications.
a partner at the law firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP and longtime lobbyist, said the lesser-known candidates will have to come out swinging to distinguish themselves in the crowded field.
“The rear of the pack will have to attack, have to show who they are, have to be creative,” he said. Those who have been in the lead, especially Mr. Adams and Mr. Yang, will have to keep showing why they have continued to lead the polls, he added.
The undecided voters are beginning to shift, Mr. Davidoff said, as the primary gets closer. While ranked-choice voting has encouraged candidates to collaborate with each other and make a play for second and third rankings, during the debate they should bring sharp elbows, he said.
“I think you go out there with your fangs and your nails out and you show why you’re better,” he said.
Write to Katie Honan at Katie.Honan@wsj.com
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Source: WSJ – US News