The date, time and location for the event have not been specified. But in a letter signed by the heads of the three groups which was sent to each of the mayoral campaigns, the candidates were asked for “response to this invitation within the next week.”
Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign, refused to say whether or not they planned on participating, saying the appropriate time to discuss debates would be “in the fall.”
Democratic candidates Bill Thompson and Tony Avella will be going, they say.
Bloomberg’s reluctance to attend a debate is not new, and fits in with his preference for attending well-controlled events. In 2005, he was criticized for not attending a debate against Fernando Ferrer at the Apollo Theater. Bloomberg said there was a legitimate security emergency that arose shortly before the event. Critics said he was ducking the event where he anticipated a less-than-receptive audience. Ultimately, the criticisms didn’t damage Bloomberg too badly.
So far this year, with one exception, Bloomberg has refused to take questions from reporters or the public at his campaign events. His campaign defends the position saying that he holds Q&A’s daily while doing his mayoral duties. But even there, Bloomberg has criticized reporters who ask him campaign questions, and referring such questions to “the campaign.”