The Debate

The Times calls it fiery, the Post says they both come out swinging, the Daily News says Suozzi failed to land a KO and Newsday calls it a debate volley. (You can read those detailed analyses here, here, here and here. Host NY1′s account is here.)

The summary, I think, is that there were genuine and not-insignificant differences on substance between the candidates on a number of issues, including – to name three more or less at random — medical marijuana, the amount of state money for city public schools and the next leader of the MTA.

In terms of style, Suozzi handled himself well enough, attacking without appearing particularly shrill. But, to use the boxing metaphor so popular in debate coverage, a KO of Spitzer was never really on the cards.

John Koblin emailed over a few notes from Pace after the event on Suozzi’s aggressive spin and a pre-debate rules controversy:

Paul Rivera, the new campaign manager for Suozzi, felt like his candidate wasn’t combative enough. Even while offering direct attacks and sideswipes, Rivera said his candidate missed his chance to hurt his “filibustering” and “sweaty” opponent.

“Tom needed to be more assertive,” he said. “I thought he was too respectful.”

Suozzi’s strength, says Rivera: “His humor. He showed the people that he was a regular guy and not too hard and aggressive.”

Suozzi also made an appearance to send two messages: One, he wants more debates (“After the debate ended, I went up to Eliot and asked, ‘Wanna do it again? Wanna do it again?’ He said, ‘See you later.’”); two, to give some airtime about the “notes” incident before the debate.

Suozzi said he had a binder of notes up on the dais before the debate, which Mr. Spitzer said broke the rules. Portraying Mr. Spitzer as raving and mad, Suozzi said, “He’s got a bad temper. I never saw him that angry before.”

On the letter of the law, though, it seems Spitzer was right. An email dated last Friday from Jeremy Bitz of NY1 sent to the Spitzer Campaign, cites “bob” (as in <a href="View image“>Bob Hardt) explaining the rules: “Can candidates bring notes? From bob, I believe you’ll follow standard practice and provide pen/paper and not allow notes. As we said in the invite, these ground rules are non-negotiable.”

Meanwhile, Christine Anderson, spokeswoman for Mr. Spitzer, said Mr. Suozzi came off as “shrill” and “too hostile.” And even though Mr. Spitzer at times seemed to be reaching hard to bat away his opponent’s lashings, she the debate “didn’t change the dial” on this race.

– Josh Benson