NEW YORK — New York City’s sleepy mayoral race briefly jolted awake on Tuesday night, as the second and final TV debate between Eric Adams and Curtis Sliwa devolved into a verbal fistfight.
Sliwa, the long-shot Republican nominee and Guardian Angels founder, was no angel on the debate stage, setting an adversarial tone almost immediately as he ripped Adams for saying that he would meet with gang members to fight gun violence.
“That makes no sense at all!” thundered Sliwa, disregarding an opening question about stop-and-frisk policies. “You haven’t even met with the police unions.”
As the interruption-prone Sliwa steamrolled past rules for the debate, which was held at WABC’s studios on the Upper West Side, Adams fired back.
“You’re acting like my son when he was 4 years old,” said Adams, the well-funded and heavily favored Democratic nominee. “You want to be the mayor of the City of New York? Start with discipline.”
Sliwa responded by imploring Adams not to be a “robot.”
It was an ugly — and entertaining — final act in the city’s policy-light mayoral race, which has widely been viewed as an extended coronation for Adams ahead of Election Day on Nov. 2. In the city, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than six to one.
The fiery tone in Tuesday’s tilt marked a major departure from the first debate. In that showdown, Adams mostly ignored Sliwa’s attacks, which were significantly less aggressive.
On Tuesday, Sliwa shouted and flailed his arms, his face threatening to turn as red as his signature beret. When Adams mentioned the thrice-divorced Sliwa’s child support payments, the Republican exclaimed: “Scurrilous!”
“How dare you bring my family into this,” Sliwa said. “Keep our families out of this!”