October 3, 2017

For The Record

Sal Albanese can’t seem to catch a break. His decidedly long-shot mayoral candidacy suffered another setback when NY1, which will televise the first general-election debate Oct. 10, announced that only Mayor de Blasio, Republican nominee Nicole Malliotakis and independent candidate Bo Dietl would be on the stage at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side.

Given that Mr. Albanese got 15 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary Sept. 12 and will remain on the ballot on the Reform Party line after easily besting both the Mayor (who reportedly made a late bid to steal it) by a tally of 3,937 to 1,148 (all write-in votes) and Mr. Dietl, who also took a shot there and got 108 write-ins after errors kept him from being on both the Democratic and GOP primary ballots, it might have seemed he’d done enough to participate.

But he told us in a Sept. 28 phone interview that a candidate had to satisfy one of two criteria to be allowed in the debate—the only one that will take place before a live audience.

“One is raising $500,000, which I don’t have,” Mr. Albanese said. “The other is you raise $175,000—which I did—and you have to get 8 percent in the polls” done by Marist College or Quinnipiac University.

In the latter category, he ran into a Catch-22. Marist did a poll over the five days immediately following the primaries, but did not include Mr. Albanese, according to polling director Lee Miringoff, because he hadn’t realized he was still running on the Reform Party line. “I would’ve definitely been in the double digits,” the candidate told us, given that he is to the left of both Assemblywoman Mallio­takis and Mr. Dietl but palatable to conservatives on policing issues, as shown by the financial backing he got from police unions including the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Mr. Dietl got 9 percent in the Marist Poll and passed the $500,000 fund-raising threshold, one source told us, making him viable enough to include even though he chose not to participate under the rules of the Campaign Finance Board.

As to Quinnipiac, it has yet to conduct a general-election poll, and a spokesman declined to say how soon it would publish the results of one. Even if it came out before the debate and the results were favorable for Mr. Albanese, it might be too late for him to be included, which had him considering possible legal action.

Noting that he had been able to make the Mayor work hard during their two primary debates and Mr. Dietl’s past tendency to go after Ms. Malliotakis—creating the possibility he will do some of the Mayor’s work for him—Mr. Albanese said the looming three-way battle “may be easier for de Blasio, more entertaining.”

And, he lamented, “If they don’t do a poll or they don’t include you in a poll, you’re outta luck.”