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Tone Nasty Between Republican Mayoral Candidates As Primary Day Nears

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With just a week to go, the Republican primary for mayor has taken on a nasty tone, with a series of tough attacks between the two front-runners. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Even though polls consistently show Joseph Lhota ahead in the GOP primary, the former deputy mayor is still taking nothing for granted.

He promised Staten Island commuters Tuesday morning to finally fix the escalator that's been shut down since Hurricane Sandy last year.

Staten Islanders proved a crucial voting bloc for Lhota's former boss, two-term mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

"Rudy Giuliani is a friend of mine," Lhota said. "I was his budget director. I was his deputy mayor. He has offered to help me, and I have accepted that help. And I think it's going to be very, very instrumental in the Republican primary."

However, Lhota's rival, John Catsimitidis, has a new ad, and it targets Lhota precisely over the association he is looking to promote.

"Lhota, you're no Rudy Giuliani. Not even close," says one person in Catsimatidis' ad.

"I'm running against Rudy Giuliani. I'm not running against Joe Lhota," Catsimatidis said. "If it was just Joe Lhota, nobody knows who Joe Lhota is. All the phone calls we make, they say, 'Joe who?'"

Because the tone of the GOP primary has been so cantankerous at times, particularly between Catsimatidis and Lhota, it prompted state GOP Chairman Ed Cox to issue a statement Monday essentially telling the candidates to take it down a notch, to focus more on issues and less on personal attacks.

Lhota said he has not heard from Cox, who is related by marriage to Catsimatidis.

"I have no idea why the chairman hasn't called me," Lhota said. "If he thinks that the way to settle a peace is to do it through a press release, he's sadly mistaken."

Meantime, candidate George McDonald has filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance Board over his possible exclusion from the final GOP debate.

"Yes, they've told me that I can't participate in the next debate, the last debate," he said.

That final debate will take place this Sunday.

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