There is no way not to love the back-and-forth politicking that is taking place in New York as the candidates mark their place as the primary voting approaches.
A couple months ago I would have said without a doubt that Christine Quinn would win, and be the first female mayor of The Big Apple. But her poll numbers have slipped sharply while Bill de Blasio has surged.
Tonight a bare knuckle debate was held, and the target was the front runner who was taking incoming verbal attacks from all sides.
The acrid and urgent tenor of the exchanges reflected the worried state of a Democratic field unable, thus far, to halt the ascendancy of Mr. de Blasio, whose fierce anti-Bloomberg liberalism, deft showcasing of his interracial family, and pinpoint focus on economic disparity have lifted him to front-runner status in the polls.
Christine C. Quinn hammered Mr. de Blasio for accepting money from a City Council fund for earmarks when he served on the Council, and then later proposing a ban on such disbursements when he was seeking higher office.
“He will say anything depending on whose votes he is trying to get,” Ms. Quinn said.
John C. Liu, the city comptroller, accused Mr. de Blasio of waiting until the last possible minute to support a bill that would raise pay for city workers.
“You signed on at the very end to protect your own butt from the liberal and progressive movement that was chiding you,” Mr. Liu said.
And, in an issue that the candidates returned to repeatedly, William C. Thompson Jr. mocked Mr. de Blasio’s plan to raise taxes on the rich to pay for prekindergarten classes, saying it stood no chance of passage in the State Legislature.
“A bold proposal isn’t about putting forward something that’s never going to happen,” he said.
Mr. de Blasio, looking at times impatient as the barrage intensified, sought to portray his rivals as sclerotic politicians who had closed themselves off to new ideas. He sounded his campaign’s theme: that City Hall needs to open itself up to new leadership, less shackled to the wealthy constituencies and business interests that have dominated during the tenure of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.