GOP Candidates Ask "Who's Electable?" Days Before Primary

by Jeff Coltin
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Lhota after the debate

Jeff Coltin, WFUV News

Lhota and Catsimatidis Face Off in Last NYC Mayoral GOP Debate

Republicans are always fighting an uphill battle in the heavily Democratic city of New York. To get voters to the polls, candidates have to convince them that they can win in November, whoever the Democrat may be. John Catsimatidis made his case in Sunday's debate saying only HE has the ability to garner support of minorities and the pro-business Democrats in the city. And the billionaire businessman said he has *something his opponent Joe Lhota doesn't: money.

"Unless Joe can prove he has enough money to go against the Democrats and raise it in 6 weeks," Catsimatidis said, "[winning the general election] is tough."

For his part, Lhota said there would be a "stark difference" between him and any Democrat, but acknowledged the difficulty in the numbers.

"Over the last 20 years, yes, [the ratio of NYC registered Democrats to Republicans] has grown from 5-to-1 to 6-to-1," Lhota said. "But Republicans and Independents win in the City of New York because they represent the better idea."

The candidates sparred over each other's records, with the toughest questions (like Lhota's responsibility for communication issues on 9/11 and how Catsimatidis is dealing with lawsuits against his Gristedes supermarkets) coming from the moderators. The biggest attack came in the form of a silence. Lhota declined to ask Catsimatidis when given a chance, saying, "I have no question for John Catsimatidis at this time." He would decline a second chance to ask a question later in the debate.

After the debate, Catsimatidis said he thought his opponent was afraid of the "swing-back" a question could cause.

Lhota disagreed. "There's nothing about John Catsimatidis that I'm afraid of," he said. "I'm going to win on Tuesday night, I'm going to ask him for his support, and we're going to move forward."

Which candidate will get to move forward and challenge the Democrats?  It will be decided Tuesday.

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Lhota and Catsimatidis met for their final debate. WFUV News' Jeff Coltin was there.

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