Council Speaker Christine Quinn went on WNYC this morning to make her pitch to voters, but the New Yorkers who called into the show were more interested in highlighting some of the biggest issues that have dogged her mayoral campaign.
Ms. Quinn was pressed repeatedly on her decision to extend term limits in 2009, which one caller, Susan from Greenwich Village, said had undermined democracy by overriding voter referendums.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, the surprising new front-runner in the topsy-turvy mayor’s race, is now getting a taste of his own medicine.
After spending months slamming City Council Speaker Christine Quinn over her decision to overturn term limits to allow the current mayor to run for a third term, Mr. de Blasio is facing heat from his rivals for the fact that, as a councilman, he advocated the same change.
But a defiant Mr. de Blasio defended his record this afternoon, slamming both Ms. Quinn and former Comptroller Bill Thompson for their recent efforts to blast him on the issue.
“That takes chutzpah, a lot of chutzpah, for Christine Quinn, the person who gave Michael Bloomberg a backroom deal for a third term to criticize other people,” fumed Mr. de Blasio when asked to respond to Ms. Quinn’s charge that he’d flip-flopped on the issue. “She violated the will of the people, she made a backroom a deal, she gave the mayor a third term and it’s been a third term where the mayor has been absolutely insensitive to so many of the needs of the people, and then she wants to throw stones?”
While he acknowledged that he had supported extending legislative term limits back in 2005, he said he changed his mind in 2008 when he watched mayor orchestrate what he described as a “sneak attack.”
“That was about an idea and then in 2008 we had a reality. And the reality to me was fundamentally undemocratic. It was clear the mayor was going to bully and buy his way to a third term. That did not reflect anything that I had talked about previously,” he said. “When I saw the way he was using his money and his power to overcome the will of the people, I fought back and I led the opposition against Mayor Bloomberg’s proposals … I led the opposition against it. Case closed.”
As for Mr. Thompson, Mr. de Blasio dismissed his criticism as “convenient” and argued that, while Mr. Thompson was on the right side of the issue in 2008, he actually followed the public advocate’s lead. “He knows when it came to organizing the strategy and the opposition and making the coalition come together, he’ll admit that I was the one calling him to play a role in the effort,” Mr. de Blasio charged. “Someone had to lead the fight against Bloomberg, and I did it.”
When asked about Mr. de Blasio’s comments on a subsequent conference call, Mr. Thompson initially reacted with a laugh.
“I think if anybody remembers back then at that point, I was a strong opponent of the term limit change. I didn’t have to be dragged out by anyone,” Mr. Thompson told Politicker. “I was out there fighting.”
Councilman Lew Fidler, supporting Mr. Thompson with a call, added that the de Blasio allegation was “ridiculous.” “That’s a laugh out loud funny,” Mr. Fidler said. “Bill Thompson doesn’t have to answer the question of, ‘Why he was for it before he was against it.’ By the time Bill de Blasio was advocating for it–I personally know, because I’m a witness–Bill Thompson was against it.”
After the de Blasio’s press conference–where Mr. de Blasio received an endorsement from City Councilman Brad Lander, one of the chief sponsors of two recent bills designed to rein in the controversial NYPD stop-and-frisk tactic–the Quinn camp fired off a press release further criticizing Mr. de Blasio for taking “talking out of both sides of your mouth to a whole new level.”
Mr. de Blasio, Ms. Quinn and Mr. Thompson are locked in a three-way race for two slots in the expected Democratic primary runoff on October 1.
Just in case it wasn’t already clear from the barbs on his Twitter feed, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson is not a fan of Bill de Blasio’s vision for the city.
During an appearance tonight on NY1, the man who has become the mayor’s chief mouthpiece continued to dig into the sudden front-runner in the mayor’s race, doubling down on previous criticism and accusing the city’s public advocate of flip-flopping on term limits.
The attack comes as various forces are ramping up their efforts to halt Mr. de Blasio’s unexpected gains in the polls with just two weeks to go until the primary.
Former Congressman and mayoral contender Anthony Weiner went after what he described as “policy jihadists,” the media and his opponents in an extended barroom interview this evening with BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith.
The sit-down, which spanned from serious to silly, gave Mr. Weiner–nursing a non-alcoholic milky-looking beverage to Mr. Smith’s beer–a rare chance to talk about something other than the sexting scandal that has consumed his campaign in recent weeks, sending his poll numbers plummeting.
In perhaps his most defiant campaign appearance to date, Anthony Weiner delivered an impassioned defense of his scandalous mayoral bid, persuading at least one hostile Bronx audience member to consider backing him over his rivals.
“You know, I wonder sometimes, why are my opponents so eager to get me out of the race?” Mr. Weiner, his voice suddenly soaring, asked last night. “If they believe their ideas are better than mine, if they believe their record is better than mine, if they believe their character is better than mine, …. let them stand up and say it. At a certain point, you got to say, ‘Look, I don’t quit!’ New Yorkers don’t quit! I’m not going to go into the corner and curl up because someone found out something embarrassing about me.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn officially launched her long anticipated mayoral campaign this morning with a “walk and talk tour” of the five boroughs. Though the event was carefully choreographed, with the locations of the various stops not made public so only handpicked supporters and reporters who tagged along in a press van without knowing the destinations could meet Ms. Quinn at each point of her journey, the Speaker was still confronted with a heckler who brought up one of the more controversial moments of her career–when the Council she led paved the way for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for a third term by overturning the term limits law in 2008.
Former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV told The Politicker he doesn’t really think Mayor Bloomberg will go to jail, but he’s still outraged about the maneuvers the mayor made to secure a third term. Mr. Powell also discussed his future political plans.
Last week, Mr. Powell said Mayor Bloomberg would be sent to prison in an El Diario roundup of year-end political predictions. “Bloomberg won’t finish his third term. He’ll be charged and sent to jail, and Bill Thompson will win a special election for mayor,” Mr. Powell said in remarks translated from the original Spanish.
Mr. Powell clarified his comments in a conversation with The Politicker this afternoon.