Who Won the First Mayoral Debate? That’s Easy to Answer

By Senior Editor/Producer Jonathan Mena

The Daily News dubbed the first Mayoral debates the “brawl for the hall” but it was more of a minor skirmish. I call it a draw. They jabbed but neither pugilist landed a knockout blow. The debate, held at El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem, was the first time both candidates met nose to nose and marked Thompson’s first video-true introduction to New Yorkers.

Both faired poorly when asked about the low numbers of Latinos in their administrations, about 10 percent of their workforce. Thompson said 60 percent of his workers were people of color and, in what was the funniest moment of the debate, Bloomberg said in Spanish that he would increase the actual numbers of minorities tomorrow (which is today).

Real fireworks erupted when Bloomberg was asked about pay-to-play contributions. Bloomberg said he didn’t think his donations bought him votes because he donated to organizations not voters. Thompson fired, saying that Bloomberg was really doing “pay to endorse.” Thompson said that he was disappointed that Bloomberg has spent $200 million “to rewrite history.”

The candidates attacked each other but gave little insight into their policies. Thompson, who looked firey, told Bloomberg “You should be ashamed, stop it now” when question about pensions funds that Bloomberg has said have done badly under Thompson, who is the City comptroller. But Thompson failed to carry that fire throughout the debate. When the moderator asked the candidates to say something good about each other both said the other was a good golfer but not the right person for the job.

It’s only three weeks left before Election Day and neither candidate stood out especially well. Thompson’s campaign slogan about Bloomberg’s avarice and betrayal of the public trust by leading the charge against term limits failed to draw blood during their skirmishing. The Mayor brushed it off, and when the cross-examination portion of the debate happened, Thompson failed to take the opportunity to stick it to the Mayor about term limits.

With Thompson behind in the polls and Bloomberg sitting comfortably on top, it’s going to take more than chants of “Eight Is Enough” to knock out the incumbent. The next debate is scheduled at the end of October. Both sides claimed victory in this first encounter.

[Insiders say term limits, supporter apathy could damage Mayor Bloomberg’s chances of reelection – NY Daily News]

Jonathan Mena can be reached at jonathanmena.nyc@gmail.com.

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