NEW YORK — Two Republican candidates battled it out in the primary race for mayor, but in the end there was no competition as Curtis Sliwa handily defeated Fernando Mateo Tuesday night.
Mateo, a businessman and activist, addressed his supporters after conceding the race to Sliwa.
“We didn’t win, but we did win because I won all of you. I won all of the friendships that I have here, and that’s what’s important,” Mateo said. “I really didn’t expect to win. I really didn’t think I would win, but I said ‘let me give it a shot.’ It wasn’t our day and it wasn’t the city’s day. The city’s not ready for me and maybe I’m not ready for the city.”
Sliwa snagged nearly 72% of Republican votes, as of Wednesday morning, but Republican turnout in the heavily Democratic city was very low.
The Guardian Angels founder said he hopes to unify Republican voters in the city before the November election, but added he’s got another angle to appeal to a broader base.
“I will have an independent line, so that there are men and women out there who never in their lives would cross the imaginary line to vote for a Republican, they’ll have an opportunity to vote for me on the independent line,” he said. “Unlike a lot of previous Republicans, I’m not just going to be tough on law and order. Everybody knows that; that’s what I’ve done for 44 years as the leader of the Guardian Angels.”
Sliwa said he plans to focus on helping the emotionally unwell and homeless New Yorkers while also drumming up support from independents in New York City.
“There’s diversity in this city … the growing movement in this city is independents,” he said. “And for my entire life, I was an independent … I know how to reach independents because I was one of them.”
If elected, Sliwa said he would also consider giving Mateo a position within his administration, noting his expertise in small business.