NEW YORK — In a mayoral primary overwhelmed by 13 Democratic candidates, two Republican contenders had to clamor for attention.
But the two candidates, Curtis Sliwa and Fernando Mateo, have waged a campaign just as competitive, hoping the estimated half-million registered Republican voters in the city cared enough to cast their ballots for them.
Many Republicans in the city shifted their loyalties this past year, with more than 800,000 shifting allegiance to Independent or Democratic affiliations. That’s where Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, hopes to find much of his support in the November election. He says he has secured enough signatures to create a third, independent party, The Animal Welfare Party, whose mantra is to eliminate euthanasia for stray animals.
Sliwa believes voters who have difficulty casting a vote for him on a Republican line would be more likely to give him the vote on an independent line. Going into the primary, Sliwa likened himself to a lifelong New Yorker who has the street smarts to be mayor.
Fernando Mateo, an advocate for taxi drivers and bodega owners described himself as a blue collar urban Republican. He lacked the name recognition of Sliwa, who has had a presence on city streets and subways wearing his familiar red beret Guardian Angels beret since the 1970s.
Sliwa held the edge over Mateo going into the primary. He was six points ahead in the latest PIX11/News Nation/Emerson College poll a week ago. Both candidates campaigned on pledges to bolster police and reign in crime in the city.
Among Sliwa’s promises is one to wage war on the squeegee people, declaring, “Giuliani Time Again.”