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NYC Mayoral Race: 8 Main Democratic Contenders Engage In Slash-And-Burn Debate

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With just weeks before Election Day, the eight main Democratic mayoral contenders engaged in a slash-and-burn debate Wednesday.

As CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer reports, the first in-person debate of the Democratic mayoral primary was filled with cross talk and insults.

Scott Stringer attacked Andrew Yang in a strategy that would be seen over and over again during the debate -- attack the front runners in an attempt to claw your way to the top.

"As your consultants have told you time and time again, they admit you're an empty vessel," Stringer said to Yang.

"Mr. Adams has said he has carried a gun to church ... Eric, isn't this the wrong message to send our kids we're telling not to pick up the guns?" Maya Wiley said to Eric Adams.

Since Adams and Yang are currently leading in most polls, they received a good share of the incoming, but one of the most intense exchanges involved the two men at the top themselves, with Adams slamming Yang for leaving the city during the pandemic and and not voting in mayoral elections.

"How the hell do we have you become our mayor? ... How will you govern a diverse city like this? I just can't get it," Adams said.

"Now, Eric, we need to turn the page on the people who have been running our city into the ground," Yang said. "The problems have been getting worse around you while you've been running for mayor and raising money."

"You started discovering NYCHA when you were running for mayor. You just started discovering violence when you were running for mayor," Adams said. "You can't run from the city, Andrew, if you want to run the city."

"These ad hominem attacks, New Yorkers are not benefitting from it, we need to move forward," Ray McGuire said.

A tough moment for former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia came when she was asked to give former boss Mayor Bill de Blasio a grade.

"Stick with it-ness to make it so that we are thinking about how are we gonna get vaccinated, get people vaccinated ... how are we going to get kids back in school, these things were failures during the height of a crisis. Execution matters," she said.

"In terms of vision ... I'd probably give him an A," Dianne Morales said. "I think there's a difference, though, between vision and execution."

Shaun Donovan, who reminded people over and over again he worked for President Barack Obama, was asked how you fight crime and cut the NYPD budget at the same time

"This is too important an issue to answer it with hashtags or tweets," he said.

And while it was a punch-your-lights-out debate, most would agree with McGuire's sentiment about the current occupant of Gracie Mansion.

"This is a bad movie playing out at City Hall with the same characters. We simply cannot afford a disastrous sequel," he said.

The candidates were each asked to raise their hands if they wanted Mayor Bill de Blasio to endorse them and again if they wanted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to endorse them. The only one to raise his hand both times was Andrew Yang.

Join Marcia Kramer and Maurice DuBois as they moderate a debate with the leading contenders for New York City mayor in the Democratic primary on Thursday, June 10, at 7 p.m. on CBS2.

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