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New York City Democrats wrap up last of three mayor's race debates

By Christina Romano, CNN
updated 8:09 AM EDT, Wed September 4, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Five of six candidates competing in Democratic primary for New York City mayor debated
  • Progressive candidate Bill de Blasio is the presumed front-runner, with 43% in latest poll
  • Republicans will also hold their mayoral primary on same day, September 10

New York (CNN) -- Five of six Democratic candidates vying to become the next mayor of New York City took to the airwaves Tuesday night in the last of three debates. The hourlong televised debate continued for another half hour online, one week before the primary.

Unlike the last debate, during which the city's stop-and-frisk law enforcement policies dominated the discussion, the Democratic candidates answered questions on everything from immigration and labor contracts to education.

Hours before the debate, a new Quinnipiac University poll showed Progressive candidate Bill de Blasio grabbing the support of 43% of likely Democratic primary voters, with Bill Thompson at 20%, Christine Quinn at 18%, Anthony Weiner 7% and John Liu at 4%. A sixth candidate, Sal Albanese, is polling at 1%. The rest of the respondents were undecided.

During the debate, de Blasio came back numerous times to his proposal to tax anyone making more than $500,000 and put the money toward education.

"This is a city which has always believed in big, bold ideas," de Blasio said in response to a question from Thompson.

Other candidates stressed the importance of early education, with Thompson noting the importance of an "intensive curriculum" and help with "professional development."

The front-runner also fended off attacks from other candidates on his changing position on term limits and accusations regarding his record with a worst landlords list.

According to a New York Daily News article on Sunday, de Blasio, who created the list in 2010 in his role as public advocate, "went to bat" for one landlord with a "rash of violations" when the landlord steered donations his way.

Quinn cited the "horrible conditions" of some of the buildings on de Blasio's list, claiming some people in the buildings complained of still living in "squalor." De Blasio cited the "300 buildings" that were fixed, saying, "I'm proud of what we did."

Moderators from WNBC News, which broadcast the debate, Telemundo and The Wall Street Journal asked each candidate a specific question, including how much each candidate earned per year.

When asked about using a slush fund, Quinn said it was a practice that has been dropped.

Thompson was asked why he has not taken a stronger stance on stop and frisk, to which he forcefully replied he believed the policy had been misused and abused and people were targeted for "who they are and what they looked like."

Weiner was asked about his credibility as a candidate. Calling himself "an imperfect messenger," Weiner indicated he would still be effective if elected mayor.

Liu, who spoke over the allotted time limit more than once during the debate, called for a comprehensive plan from childhood to high school and "restoring a learning environment" when answering on education.

The New York Democratic mayoral primary will be held on Tuesday, September 10. If a candidate does not cross the 40% threshold, there will be a runoff between the two top contenders on October 1.

On the Republican side, candidates Joe Lhota, John Catsimatidis and George McDonald faced off August 28 in a debate.

The GOP primary also will be held on September 10. The general election is scheduled for November 5.

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