Billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis found himself fumbling and stumbling in the final debate against his rival Joe Lhota for the Republican nomination in the New York City Mayor’s race, tripping over questions and making some hard-to-understand statements, with Lhota already holding a lead in the polls before the Sept. 10 primary.
Catsimatidis has blanketed the airwaves with ads, and a strong debate performance could affect the outcome of the primary. Low Republican turnout is expected in the heavily Democratic city and the two men went at each other again with some testy exchanges, although they said they would both retain Police Commissioner Ray Kelly if elected.
In an exchange where Catsimatidis criticized Lhota for his decisions as deputy mayor in Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral administration, Lhota angrily ended with, “John, get your facts straight.”
At another point, where the candidates were asked whether they had questions for each other, Lhota stared straight ahead as Catsimatidis faced him to ask a question. Lhota declined to ask his opponent anything.
Catsimatidis made repeated reference to Lhota’s technical skills, contrasting it with what he called his own visionary capability. “I’ve been a CEO for 44 years, and I am used to hiring people to perform technical tasks. I’ve hired hundreds of people with the qualifications of Joe,” he said. He added, “But you need a visionary, you need somebody that creates.”