Last week, the New York Amsterdam News and El Diario-La Prensa announced a partnership with the Working Families Party to sponsor a mayoral debate that would address issues often ignored by the powers that be but greatly affect the city’s working-class communities. Invitations were sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Comptroller Bill Thompson and Councilman Tony Avella. At press time, Bloomberg’s people had not responded.
According to a published report, Bloomberg’s campaign will not participate in a debate. Jill Hazelbaker, the mayor’s campaign spokeswoman, is quoted as saying: “We very much appreciate the invitation and we look forward to discussing debates in the fall.”
The debate will take place sometime in the month of May and Thompson’s people couldn’t be more excited.
“Anytime, anywhere,” said Eddie Castell, Thompson’s campaign manager. “We wouldn’t mind coming to the Apollo [Theater] and doing it in Harlem.” Dan Cantor, executive director of the WFP, said that there’s no better way to see how the candidates stack up on issues concerning working-class and poor New Yorkers.
Despite the economic crisis and the mounting tension between the haves and have-nots, Bloomberg could likely equal his 2001 and 2005 campaign spending totals. He spent close to $84.5 million for his 2005 reelection campaign. He spent $3 million between January 12 and March 11.
“You think he wouldn’t be spending money like that at this time,” said Castell. “Unprecedented.” It’s also been noted that Bloomberg hasn’t yet taken questions from reporters or the public at campaign events.
Castell talked about Bloomberg’s ability to “promote himself in a way that only he can control [the situation],”and said, “If he can’t control it, he’s afraid of the results.” During the previous mayoral election campaign in 2005,Bloomberg backed out of a debate against Fernando Ferrer at the Apollo. Bloomberg cited what he felt was a legitimate security concern leading up to the debate as his reason for not showing up. What would be this year’s excuse? “Obviously, he doesn’t want to come and discuss the issues that matter or deal with the constituencies of the AmNews, El Diarioand the Working Families Party,” said Castell. The Amsterdam News, Working Families Party and El Diario-La Prensa want Bloomberg to know that the invitation still stands.