De Blasio responds to a racial polling allegation

De Blasio. (Azi Paybarah.)
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During an interview on Al Sharpton's radio show yesterday, Bill de Blasio was asked about a news report that Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota conducted a poll testing public opinion about de Blasio's interracial marriage, an allegation the Lhota campaign immediately denied.

De Blasio's family has played a central role in his campaign: His son Dante appeared in a popular ad, his daughter Chiara has been a hit at parades and public events, and de Blasio's wife, Chirlane, has frequently appeared at campaign events.

De Blasio responded to the story by invoking Lhota's former boss, telling Sharpton, "I know who Joe Lhota worked for. He worked for Rudy Giuliani. He was the top deputy for Rudy Giuliani when Rudy was dividing this city as a matter of political strategy." De Blasio added, "Let’s face it, you and I went through every minute of the Rudy Giuliani era. We saw the worst appeals to racial bias and division."

The Lhota campaign responded to the story by denying that it had polled the issue, or that it even knew David Johnson, the Atlanta-based pollster who claimed inside knowledge of the campaign's polling. Johnson later said he was misquoted, and that he's actually "not familiar" with anyone who works for Lhota.

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But there was an earlier report about a poll which did look into the matter, back in 2009, the year de Blasio won the Public Advocate's office.

After de Blasio won, Ben Smith wrote a story for Politco titled "Breaking the last racial taboo." In it, Smith wrote, "[de Blasio's] wife’s prominence wasn’t all a matter of course — a poll done early on for the campaign specifically included a question on interracial marriage. But de Blasio said he always hoped his candidacy could have a larger impact."

Quote

"He has the best background. And he speaks clearly and responsibly." — Mario Cuomo

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