During a rare visit to the Bronx today, some of Bill de Blasio’s most prominent backers pushed back on charges that the mayoral front-runner has spent too little time in the borough while campaigning for mayor.
During last night’s final debate, Mr. de Blasio was forced to respond to criticism that he’d spent too much time in Manhattan and Park Slope and not enough time in places like the Bronx and the Rockaways since securing the Democratic nomination.
In a television interview this morning, Mr. de Blasio’s opponent, Joe Lhota, seized on the criticism, and continued to denounce Mr. de Blasio’s front-runner Rose Garden approach.
“You’ve not been to Staten Island, you’ve not been to the Bronx. He’s spent very little time in Queens. He went to the Rockaways twice in the entire campaign,” said Mr. Lhota.“The fact of the matter is that’s where the people of New York live.”
But a pair of Bronx officials today pushed back on the charges as Mr. de Blasio made a conveniently-timed stop in the borough to greet voters outside the Fordham subway stop.
“There’s nobody, nobody can question Bill de Blasio’s Bronx cred,” declared Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz jr., an enthusiastic de Blasio backer, after the candidate had been whisked away in his black SUV. “You saw all of the people who were out here greeting him. And if you look at the voter turnout on primary night, the proof is in the pudding. His Bronx credibility is strong.”
Mr. Diaz Jr., who told Politicker today’s event had been on his schedule for more than a week, went on to say that, in addition to visiting the borough repeatedly during the election, Mr. de Blasio was right where it mattered: on the issues. He predicted Mr. de Blasio would see his highest margins in the borough next Tuesday on Election Day.
“The reality is that we’ve seen people in the past give us lip service. There are people who have visited our borough and been wrong on all the issues,” he sad. “We want not just visits. We want people who are gonna speak to our issues. And with de Blasio we get both.”
Senator Gustavo Rivera, who endorsed Christine Quinn in the primary but is now backing Mr. de Blasio, doubled down on the same message, and said that he’d seen the candidate in the Bronx at least three times since the primary.
“I know that there’s been constant communication, particularly amongst the borough president and the chair with de Blasio about some of the issues that impact the Bronx,” he told Politicker. “One of the things that’s different here is you have someone who’s from the outer boroughs, who is a Democrat and a progressive and wants to make sure that, as the city moves forward, it does so in an inclusive fashion.”
Mr. de Blasio also insisted that he’d been coming to the Bronx “for months and months and months” and brushed off a question about whether his visit had been planned in response to the debate.
“I also admire that you think we’re so agile that between last night’s debate and now we would have created this event,” he said.