Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, SIPA ’87, has a double-digit lead over Republican candidate Joe Lhota, polls say.
In the latest survey, conducted by the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 17, de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, was up 65 percent to 22 percent over Lhota, the former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chair.
The race was shaken last week by the news that de Blasio worked for the leftist revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua in his 20s.
The mayoral frontrunner swept through West Harlem on Thursday evening in one of his first appearances since clinching the Democratic nomination earlier this month, shaking hands at the subway stop at 116th Street and Lenox Avenue.
Accompanied by his wife, Chirlane McCray, and several prominent local supporters, including City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito and State Senator Bill Perkins, de Blasio stayed in Harlem only about 20 minutes before being whisked back into a black SUV.
Surrounded by a full entourage of security guards, handlers, and reporters, he fielded questions on campaign finance reform, his connection to the Sandinista party, and his relationship with the Clintons.
“Secretary Clinton called me after the election,” de Blasio said, referring to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “She’s been incredibly supportive, and she’s going to be at one of our fundraisers next month.”
He called his stint as campaign manager for Clinton’s run for Senate in 2000 “one of the biggest honors of my life.”
Corey Ortega, a local political figure and founder of the West Harlem Progressive Democratic Club, hugged de Blasio and stood around talking to people in the crowd.
“Right now the whole Democratic party has unified around de Blasio,” he said. “I respect his positions on stop-and-frisk and hiking taxes on those who can afford it.”
West Harlem resident Bernice Ray leaned into the crowd with her iPhone camera ready and said, “Let’s get a picture of our new mayor!”
Ray said she was inspired by Perkins’ support for de Blasio.
“I always go with Perkins,” she said. “I think de Blasio’s going to help the underprivileged in this community.”
On Friday, Lhota released a jobs plan for the city that focused on increasing manufacturing in all five boroughs and reducing fines and taxes on small businesses.
He has also taken a negative tone against de Blasio, saying in response to the Sandinista revelations that his campaign was “directly out of the Marxist playbook,” according to news reports.
While Lhota called for five mayoral debates, one for each borough, de Blasio only agreed to three of them. The first will be held on Oct. 15.