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Debate night

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
August 13, 2013 12:58:22 PM PDT
The first live TV debate of the Democrats who want to be New York Mayor is on. Tonight at 7, on WABC TV. We're abuzz and buzzing 'round here, finalizing our questions, engaged in sometimes heated debate about the issues, and prepping our studio (we're in the "Live With Kelly and Michael" studio).

It's all very exciting. And I hope you can join us ? either on Ch. 7 or if you're not near a television, at 7online and our apps.

And then we'll have the highlights of the debate, tonight at 11. Each candidate has his or her own cross to bear. And if no one gets 40 percent of the vote - which seems unlikely if the current polling is at all accurate - then there will be a runoff in Oct. 1.

The big news is Bill DeBlasio, perceived as the most liberal candidate, who's been an activist as Public Advocate, even getting arrested protesting the closure of a financially troubled hospital in Brooklyn. He has proposed raising taxes on those making more than $500,000 a year to fund pre-K education for every New Yorker. And late this afternoon - the biggest push for DeBlasio yet - the new Quinnipiac Poll shows him leading for the first time - with 30 percent. A huge boost for him. Did his new ad campaign help him? It shows his family - racially mixed, like a lot of New York.

Christine Quinn, the current Council Speaker, was the frontrunner, but never by a convincing number. And no longer. Today's poll has her number 2. Her poll numbers are stuck in the mid-20's - like Mitt Romney's were when he was mired in the Republican primary process in last year. She's looking to come out of this looking Mayoral.

William Thompson came within a few points of beating Bloomberg in 2009. A lightning round question may have helped do him in - when we asked him to grade the Mayor. He gave him a "D-minus," and you could hear the audience gasp. The Mayor gave Mr. Thompson a "B" as Comptroller - a more gracious response from an opponent. Now, Thompson is trying again - to be the second African-American Mayor of New York.

Anthony Weiner has much to prove in this debate. His poll numbers have plummeted with his new round of sexting scandal. But he's very articulate, perhaps the best public speaker of this group, and while trust is a problem for him, what he says often gets lots of applause. Lots of it. In his mind, he seems to think that all his sexting scandal is behind him, and he seems genuinely confused and befuddled why New Yorkers think he didn't tell the truth about his past behavior. He didn't lie about it, but he wasn't totally forthcoming either. Either way, if this debate doesn't provide him a big bump, getting into the runoff will be problematic for him.

And John Liu, the man who as Comptroller is the watch dog over the City's budget, has apparently had a hard time keeping watch and controlling his campaign's budget. Two of his people have been indicted for fundraising irregularities, and he's now appealing the Campaign Finance Board's decision to withhold public money from his campaign because of the wrongdoing. Millions are at stake. The debate is critical for his political survival. His poll numbers are 5-6 percent.

Let's Debate!

And we're in New Jersey, for the primary elections of both Republicans and Democrats to replace the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg - you remember, the $12 million special primary election. N.J. Burkett is covering the races there for us.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Jeff Smith (in for Lee Goldberg), and Laura Behnke (in for Rob Powers) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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