In Final Primary Debate, de Blasio Again Defends His Record

The mayor has a vast advantage in money raised. He has reported receiving nearly $5 million in campaign contributions, and an additional $2.6 million in public matching funds through the city’s campaign finance program. Mr. Albanese has raised $207,000 but is not close to qualifying for matching funds because he has not received enough in qualifying contributions from New York City residents.

Mr. de Blasio, 56, recently began running a television ad promoting his record of making free prekindergarten classes available to all New York City families. His campaign is spending more than $2 million on the ad campaign. Mr. Albanese does not have enough money to buy television ads, and instead has created videos posted on the internet. The mayor’s ads ran before and after the debate, bracketing it with a show of his financial muscle.

Given the disadvantage in money and name recognition, Mr. Albanese has struggled to make himself heard in a primary campaign that voters have shown little interest in, partly because big-name Democrats opted to stay on the sidelines rather than challenge an incumbent mayor.

Mr. de Blasio was confident and assertive in talking about the city’s economic growth, educational system, defense against terrorism and other achievements of his administration.

He also gave a classic performance, sometimes scolding the reporters who questioned him, often avoiding direct answers to questions and correcting Mr. Albanese when he felt that his policies or positions had been mischaracterized.

“The number of mistruths is overwhelming,” Mr. de Blasio said, after Mr. Albanese criticized his leadership of the police force. Mr. de Blasio countered by citing continued reductions in crime, as well as steps that he has taken to improve policing techniques and increase the number of officers.

In one sharp exchange, Marcia Kramer, a WCBS reporter who was on the debate panel, asked Mr. de Blasio whether he favored removing the statue of Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle. When he refused to give an opinion, she pressed him, saying voters deserved to know his position, but he would not answer, defending instead his decision to form a commission to study the city’s statues and monuments for symbols of hate and possible removal.

“I don’t need a commission to tell me that the Christopher Columbus statue should not come down,” Mr. Albanese jabbed, saying the commission was divisive. “It’s vintage Bill.”

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