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Candidates Flaunt GOP Credentials In First Republican Mayoral Debate

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The five candidates looking to become the GOP contender in this year's mayoral race took part Wednesday in their first official debate, which included questions about party loyalty and their positions on everything from paid sick leave to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's record. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Sparks flew at the first Republican debate of the mayor's race after the moderator, Crain's New York Business columnist Greg David, tore into former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, calling him a jerk.

"You know, I spent the weekend reading about 2001, and I was trying to figure out what word to apply to Rudy Giuliani that year, but jerk comes to mind," David said.

"For you to disparage the 107th Mayor of the city of New York with the words that you used, when you look at what he did," said mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota, who was a deputy mayor under Giuliani, as well as his budget director.

It is no secret that New York is a Democratic City, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than six to one. But that is not stopping the four Republicans, and an independent hoping to run as a Republican, from trying to become the city's next mayor.

"It's a pleasure, actually, to be sitting here with four smart businessmen," said mayoral candidate Tom Allon. "I've been sitting on panels with Democrats for the past six months, and it's made my stomach turn every time they talk about raising taxes."

At the debate, hosted by Crain's, the candidates talked about wages for workers.

"If the minimum wage were $50 an hour, it wouldn't make a bit of difference to a man or woman who didn't have a job," said mayoral candidate George McDonald.

There was also talk of running a business in New York.

"My stores get an average of $5,000 a week in parking tickets," said mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis. "That is wrong."

Candidates also discussed Mayor Michael Bloomberg's record.

"Whether it's on bike lanes, whether it's on taxi cabs, there are numerous things that have been done on a pilot basis, and that's not the right way to run the government," Lhota said.

After the debate, Adolfo Carrion tried to make a quick exit after an aide assured reporters that he would stick around to talk. He did not want to discuss a report in the Daily News that said Carrion created a political fund as borough president that seems to have broken state election law.

"This is 10 years ago, so I have no comment until I see the story," Carrion said. "I obviously have to talk to the guys who ran the BXNY PAC."

The aide then blocked a reporter from boarding the elevator with the candidate.

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