Bill, I say this as someone who has supported your campaign since before you were thought of as a viable candidate: I have never been closer to voting for your opponent than I am after watching your performance tonight.

Don’t misinterpret that statement: I’m still voting for you. The substance of your campaign – the need to bring police in better accord with communities, the reality of the income disparity, and the utility of universal pre-kindergarten – still merits support. However, it would do a disservice to the spirit of informed participation on which you built your campaign to deny that your treatment of the issues tonight lacked the nuance we have come to expect from you.

For example, when the question of affordable housing was raised, you continued to use the same answer that we had already heard going in. Mr. Lhota, in contrast, engaged honestly with the question: the constitutionality of a mandate to include affordable housing in developments is a very real issue, and no amount of campaign rhetoric will substitute for the thorough knowledge of the legal complexities that his answer demonstrated when it comes time to make meaningful progress on the issue as mayor.

Again, Bill, I’m not saying that we don’t think you’ll do that when the time comes; I’m only saying that we don’t tune into debates to hear you read the bullet points on your website. We tune in to hear you engage nimbly with the questions actually being asked, and we know you have more interesting things to tell us than a simple reminder that your opponent is a Republican.  Sadly, on Tuesday night, that’s about all you had to say.

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