(Rebecca Fishbein) Democratic nominee for New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer faced off against Republican opponent John Burnett in their first, and perhaps only, televised debate last night. And, in keeping with most of the other debates this election season, the hour-long session was fraught with feisty personal attacks, as the candidates traded barbs about their qualifications, political affiliations and whether or not the government shutdown would drown New York in sadness and debt.
Stringer, the Manhattan Borough President, is currently the frontrunner in the election, having already notably bested fellow Democrat Eliot Spitzer in last month's primary. And Stringer, who along with Burnett sat down with moderators Errol Louis (NY1) and Brian Lehrer (WNYC), made sure to point out he'd spent decades in public service; he also focused a lot of attention on Burnett's GOP affiliation, heavily tying him to the current GOP-spearheaded shutdown in Washington, D.C.
But Burnett, an East New York native, a Wall Street executive and relative newcomer to the political scene, isn't about to go down without a fight, and he came out swinging, arguing right off the bat that Stringer wasn't qualified for the finance-heavy gig. "At the end of the day, the shareholders don't care about about your political affiliation. They care about the return, and how you're managing that corporation. At the end of the day, it's about the investment," he said.
Burnett didn't shy away from any verbal barrage. "You have no experience in auditing, you’ve been in politics for 25 years, and you owe a ton of favors. I’m surprised you still even have your own soul," he told a visibly thrown aback Stringer. "Maybe you actually sold that off a long time ago." He also argued that Stringer, a trustee on the city's pension fund board, attended very few of the board's meetings and was therefore unqualified to oversee the city's pensions. "You just don't show up," he said, noting Stringer had only attended 15 out of 125 board meetings that year. "You're a failure."
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Andrew Burton