Joseph Lhota, the Republican who wants to be New York’s next mayor, has a new ad suggesting that to vote for Democratic opponent Bill de Blasio is to choose a life in Hell.
The ad, titled “Can’t Go Back,” is a montage of nightmare crime images. It opens with last month’s notorious viral video of a motorcycle gang: The bikers chased down an SUV on Manhattan’s Westside Highway and bashed in its windows before beating the driver in front of his wife and two-year-old daughter.
That incident happened at a time when crime is at a record low. The commercial warns that if de Blasio is elected, his “recklessly dangerous agenda on crime” would “take New York backwards.” Flash to images from 30 years ago: rioters hurling Molotov cocktails; a smashed squad car; a vagrant flopped on the sidewalk outside a pornographic movie theater.
The city recorded about 2,000 homicides a year in the late 1980s and crack-cocaine use was an epidemic. It’s an era that fewer than half of today’s New Yorkers experienced, either because they weren’t alive or they resided elsewhere, according to the city’s Planning Department.
The ad says de Blasio’s take on how to address the motorcycle road-rage incident was merely to “visit motorcycle clubs and talk to bikers.” De Blasio corrected Lhota, saying he would direct police to visit clubs and tell members “you will go to jail” if bikers don’t behave on city streets.
Lhota, 59, wants to hire thousands more police above the department’s current level of about 33,000. He’s vowed to appeal a federal judge’s August ruling declaring the department’s use of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional because more than 80 percent of those detained on city streets were young black and Hispanic males. Lhota served as a top aide to former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani from 1994 to 2002 when murders dropped 67 percent to 629 from 1,927.
De Blasio, 52, has campaigned for months advocating that police curb stop-and-frisk tactics to reduce crime by improving cooperation with law enforcement in minority communities.
Since 2002, while Michael Bloomberg has been mayor, murders have
dropped 78 percent, and as of Oct. 6, there have been 255 this year, 25 percent fewer than on the same date in 2012. Lhota says Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly should be praised for such performance and asked to remain in the job.
De Blasio, who leads Lhota in most polls by at least 40 percentage points, says he respects Kelly for his successes, while promising to choose a new commissioner.