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Race For GOP Mayoral Nod Shaping Up As Clash Of Titans -- Lhota Vs. Catsimatidis

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's been a crowded field in the contest for the Republican mayoral nod, but sources told CBS 2 on Friday they expect the field to be whittled down in the coming weeks.

And it could also test the popularity of former mayor Rudy Giuliani and former governor George Pataki, Marcia Kramer reported.

Five was the magic number of Republicans in the first mayoral primary debate, but that number is expected to shrink dramatically.

Brooklyn Republican Chairman Craig Eaton is going to withdraw his support of Adolfo Carrion, which means that the Democrat will not get the necessary waiver to run on the GOP line.

"We're leaning very heavily, very heavily towards John Catsimatidis and expect an endorsement within the next week or two," Eaton said.

Sources told Kramer they expect Tom Allon to drop out and there are questions about George McDonald's ability to raise enough funds

That could lead to a mano-a-mano contest between former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joe Lhota, who is backed by Giuliani, and supermarket billionaire Catsimatidis, who was endorsed by Pataki.

Both Lhota and Catsimatidis seem ready to rumble.

"I beat John based on issues, based on competence, based on the ability that I've in the past had both in the private sector and in the public sector," Lhota said.

"I'm not only a prominent Republican and my daughter married a Republican, but I'm also a Democrat and I think to run New York City it takes a fusion ticket," Catsimatidis said.

Social issues will not separate the two men. Both are progressive. You'll hear them talking about fixing the education system, holding the line on taxes. With Catsimatidis, you'll get his experience running Gristedes supermarket chain.

"Frank Perdue used to say it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken. I'm a tough guy, but I have a heart," Catsimatidis said.

Lhota has been taking the pulse of voters.

"They're very, very concerned about intrusive government and as I go especially out of Manhattan every one of the other boroughs believes that the current government is very Manhattan-centric," Lhota said.

If it's mano a mano, the race will be about money. Since January Lhota has raised more than $700,000, an impressive rate of about $100,000 a week.

Catsimatidis said he'll use his deep pockets to spend about $1 million a month.

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