There can only be one “most progressive and consistently progressive candidate” in the mayor’s race, and two candidates–Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John Liu–are in dispute over which one holds the honor.
“I think I present the most consistent progressive platform and I think it’s what people in this city want and need right now,” Mr. de Blasio said Monday morning during an interview on The Brian Lehrer Show when he was asked about his claim.
Mr. de Blasio quickly ran through his challengers.
On City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, he said, “I can say it plainly: Speaker Quinn wants to continue the vast majority of [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg’s policies–in effect wants to continue the Bloomberg administration.”
Mr. de Blasio further said 2009 Democratic nominee Bill Thompson is “not willing to tax the wealthy as I am, not willing to focus on living wage legislation and paid sick days, as I am, does not agree with an inspector general or a racial profiling bill for the police department.”
Mr. Lehrer, however, took issue when Mr. de Blasio got to Mr. Liu, whom he noted has repeatedly positioned himself to the left of the field on issues ranging from education to the minimum wage. While Mr. de Blasio has proposed reforming stop-and-frisk, for instance, Mr. Liu wants it abolished; while the other candidates generally want more community input into charter school co-locations, Mr. Liu was the first to call for an outright moratorium. (Mr. de Blasio wants a moratorium for the rest of Mr. Bloomberg’s term.)
But Mr. de Blasio argued that he, unlike Mr. Liu, supports a plan to install an inspector general over the NYPD–something Mr. Liu has argued would be unnecessary once he abolished stop-and-frisk as mayor. He also said his plans are more practical.
“I would say there are areas like policing where my positions are more progressive than his. It’s easy to say ‘abolish,'” he said, arguing that stop-and-frisk is a critical police tool, if used correctly. “I think what John has put forward isn’t realistic in terms of how we actually police.”
The comments prompted pushback from Mr. Liu’s campaign, which said Mr. de Blasio was wrong.
“John has been the most progressive and consistently progressive candidate on the major issues facing our city and our future, from policing and housing to education and economic policy,” a Liu spokesperson told Politicker when asked about Mr. de Blasio’s remarks. “As Comptroller he has conducted thorough research and as mayoral candidate he has clearly laid out his vision for the future and specific plans for changes we clearly need in New York City.”
Mr. Lehrer also questioned whether New Yorkers really want a progressive mayor, after repeatedly failing to elect Democrats from Ruth Messinger to Freddy Ferrer. But Mr. de Blasio argued that this year’s race–the first since the consequences of the economic collapse became clear– will be very different.
“It is not the same New York City that the vast majority of us want and believe in. We have to fight to get that back,” he said, adding that New Yorkers are also tired after 12 years of the current mayor.
“I think there is a Bloomberg hangover here,” he said. “I think the lack of debate, the lack of transparency, the elitism, has caused many people, particularity Democrats, to want much more profound change.”