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The Politics of Fear Surfaces in New York Mayor's Race

Joe Lhota's "white woman clutching a subway pole with a black man in the background" moment.
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Joe Lhota for Mayor

The city of New York has been in a heated conversation with itself about about crime and safety more or less since the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani. During the Bloomberg years, that conversation has mostly been technocratic, turning on data points and dollar signs. But this year's mayoral election has brought New York back to the emotional, visceral politics of the past.

Democrat Bill de Blasio has built his whole campaign on a "tale of two cities" narrative that plays on New Yorkers’ anxiety about being priced out of Gotham’s prosperity. Now Republican Joe Lhota, a veteran of the Giuliani machine who is down in some polls by more than 40 points, has released an ad that says electing de Blasio would mean a return to the days of grime and everyday terror on the streets.