But The Democratic Front-Runner Was Heavily Targeted

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The latest New York City mayoral debate was missing one thing — the race’s front-runner.

Democratic nominee Bill de Blasio sat out Wednesday’s debate. A recent poll says the current public advocate has a 50-point lead over his Republican rival, ex-Metropolitan Transit Authority boss Joe Lhota.

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Lhota, a former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani, acknowledged the gap, but said in future debates New Yorkers can compare his vision for the city to de Blasio’s. De Blasio will appear in three debates beginning next Tuesday.

Lhota shared the stage Wednesday with Independence Party candidate Adolfo Carrion, an ex-Bronx borough president.

The 60-minute debate touched on a range of issues, including income inequality, affordable housing and charter schools.

De Blasio was invoked throughout, often by the debate’s moderators.

“Every time Bill talks about the tale of two cities, he doesn’t give any solutions other than helping secure the safety net,” Lhota said. “The safety net is extremely important for those who are in poverty and those who are little bit above poverty, but we need to make sure that we not only keep that net, but we also need to give them jobs.”

“I’m sorry that Mr. de Blasio decided that he’s going to take the rose garden strategy and not make any mistakes,” Carrion said.

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Running in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans six to one, Lhota played up his left-leaning social views on abortion and gay marriage and labeled de Blasio as an “extremist.”

“My policies, my direction, my beliefs are in sync with New Yorkers,” Lhota said.

Carrion, meanwhile, insisted he is a viable candidate because New Yorkers want independent leadership.

“I have been terribly frustrated that we have a political system that is broken where the voters are not showing up,” Carrion said. “They have a sense that they don’t have choices. As a Latino, I feel in particular — and as a man of color — that the Democratic Party has taken us for granted. The Republican Party has essentially ignored this potential electorate.”

The election is Nov. 5.

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