There is some fire in the Republican field for mayor, as in their first televised debate Wednesday, candidates George McDonald and John Catsimatidis tangled repeatedly, while the man many consider to be the front-runner, Joseph Lhota, mostly managed to stay out of the line of fire. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Usually, the front-runner in a campaign is the target of repeated attacks, but in the Republican primary for mayor, the candidates polling in second and third place are exchanging the toughest blows.
In a debate on NY1, George McDonald, the founder of the Doe Fund, a nonprofit organization, accused rival John Catsimatidis, a billionaire businessman, of making a Mafia-like threat against him.
McDonald: That sounds like a mafia thing, making me disappear. What is that? That is the way the mayor of the city of New York talks about people?
Catsimatidis: I never said that, George.
McDonald: Oh, yes you did.
The bitterness may be personal. McDonald actually bought his home from Catsimatidis in 1990 and took out a mortgage from him as well.
Catsimatidis: We've been friends for 25, 30 years.
McDonald: Oh, I beg to differ with you about the friendship part.
On the issues, the candidates are staking out different positions from their Democratic counterparts.
Joseph Lhota, the former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said that if he's mayor, the city's municipal unions should not expect retroactive pay raises.
"No one is entitled to retroactive pay at all, but they are entitled to a fair wage from this point going forward," Lhota said.
Lhota also said that he does not think public-sector workers should be unionized at all.
On stop-and-frisk, Catsimatidis suggested that much of the controversy could be mitigated if police were given portable metal detectors.
"I don't understand why some of our police officers don't have those magic wands, so they don't have to actually frisk, just like the airports," he said.
Catsimatidis and Lhota are in favor of a commuter tax, while McDonald is not. McDonald is the only one who supports the mayor's ban on large sugary drinks.
There was unanimity, though, on one issue. All three said they would not step aside if Police Commissioner Ray Kelly decided at the last minute that he wanted to run for mayor.