Republican NYC mayoral hopefuls meet for debate

FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2013 file photo, New York City Republican mayoral candidates, from left, Joe Lhota, George McDonald, and John Catsimatidis participate in a primary mayoral debate at the WABC-TV studios in New York. The candidates are getting set to square off for their first debate of the campaign’s final fortnight on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/New York Daily News, James Keivom, Pool, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A major debate for the Republican nominee for New York City mayor is underway.

Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis each defended the NYPD's contentious stop-and-frisk practice in the debate's first minutes.

Critics say the tactic discriminates against minorities. Its defenders say it drives down crime.

Longshot candidate George McDonald is also participating in the debate, the first televised showdown of the campaign's final two weeks.

Lhota served as deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani and steered the Metropolitan Transit Authority through Hurricane Sandy. He has led the polls all campaign.

But Catsimatidis remains within striking distance. And a poll last week indicated that nearly a third of the electorate is undecided.

The primary is Sept. 10. The general election is Nov. 5.