Republican candidates for mayor Curtis Sliwa and Fernando Mateo didn’t waste much time with niceties.
Guardian Angels founder Sliwa started the debate reminding businessman Mateo about his donations to Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“You raised money for him, straw-purchased donors, which is illegal. You helped elect the man who single-handedly has destroyed this city,” Sliwa said.
Mateo did raise money for the current mayor, but he was never charged with a crime.
“You know what? I have enough dirt to cover your body 18 feet over,” Mateo responded.
This is both candidates’ first run for office.
Dominican-born Mateo has advocated for livery cab drivers for decades, and has worked for Republican campaigns like President George W. Bush’s and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s.
Sliwa is a radio host and former NY1 pundit.
Mateo, who would become the first Latino mayor of New York, spoke about how, at age 14, he was adopted by a Jewish family, "who basically taught me what it was to work hard, who taught me what it was to earn a living and to move forward in life, and to stop looking at myself as a person of color and look at myself as a person of integrity."
Both candidates think Donald Trump will run again for president in 2024, and agree Governor Andrew Cuomo should be criminally indicted for the nursing home scandal.
Sliwa and Mateo said they wouldn’t keep Dermot Shea as Police Commissioner.
The key issues for both candidates are law and order and public safety.
“The men and women of the Police Department have been impaired by this mayor, Bill de Blasio, and this City Council,” Sliwa said.
Mateo has been endorsed by the Republican parties of Manhattan, The Bronx and Queens.
Sliwa has gotten the nod from the GOP of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
The primary has already divided the Catsimatidis family.
Billionaire John Catsimatidis, who decided not to run for mayor this year, is helping Sliwa’s candidacy.
He also owns 77 WABC Radio, which hosted the debate.
His daughter Andrea, who chairs the GOP in Manhattan, has endorsed Mateo.
According to the Campaign Finance Board, Mateo has raised about $200,000 so far; Sliwa has raised only $10,000.
Another Republican running for mayor is assets manager Sara Tirschwell, who declined to participate in the debate saying it wasn’t an independent forum, since the station’s owner had already endorsed Sliwa.