Republican New York City mayoral nominee Joe Lhota unleashed a harsh television ad suggesting opponent Bill de Blasio will return New York City to its crime-ridden past, prompting the Democratic nominee to call the attack “desperate” and “divisive,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “Bill de Blasio's recklessly dangerous agenda on crime will take us back to this,” the ad's narrator says as images of rioting , an overturned police car, covered bodies and a graffiti-strewn subway car flash across the screen as sinister-sounding music plays.
The ad also shows footage of the recent West Side Highway motorcycle melee that led to the beating of one driver and left a motorcyclist seriously injured. The narrator criticizes de Blasio's comment that, in response to the incident, police should “visit motorcycle clubs and talk to bikers.” The ad concludes, “Don't let Bill de Blasio take New York backwards.” Lhota is trailing badly in public polls. De Blasio said the ad is “just like” the infamous Willie Horton ad, a commercial that ran in the 1988 presidential campaign that played on fears about black criminals to undermine the candidacy of Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.