Gristedes' owner John Catsimatidis joins NYC mayoral race

John Catsimatidis attends the wedding of Andrea Catsimatidis

John Catsimatidis attends the wedding of Andrea Catsimatidis and Christopher Nixon Cox at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral Of The Holy Trinity in Manhattan. (June 4, 2011) (Credit: Wire Image)

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Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis formally declared his candidacy for New York City's mayor on the Republican ticket Tuesday on the steps of City Hall.

"It's not about being a Republican or a Democrat," said Catsimatidis, 64, who previously was a Democrat. "It's about being a New Yorker who cares."

If elected, he promised to create jobs in the city and help businesses succeed.

Catsimatidis is best known for owning the grocery store chain as well as real estate and oil companies. Forbes ranked Catsimatidis No. 132 on the magazine's 400 List, and estimated his worth at $3 billion.

Catsimatidis had pledged to spend $20 million of his own money on the campaign, but toned down his prediction at Tuesday's news conference.

Other official GOP contenders include former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief Joe Lhota and Manhattan Media chief executive and publisher Tom Allon.

Dan Isaacs, chairman of the New York Republican County Committee, called Catsimatidis "a quintessential New Yorker" with an "only in America story."

Catsimatidis, born in Greece, immigrated with his parents to New York in 1949. He grew up on 135th Street in Harlem and graduated from New York public schools. He attended New York University, but was eight credits shy of graduating. He then bought the grocery store he worked in as a teen and built up the chain.

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