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Top city Republican officials announced Tuesday they would recommend city council at-large candidate Joseph Egan as the party nominee for the Philadelphia mayor's race. Republican leader William Meehan, Republican City Committee Chairperson D. Donald Jameison and Republican City Committee Executive Director Joseph Duda released a press statement calling for Egan's selection to the slot previously held by the late Frank Rizzo, who died last month of a massive heart attack. "Joe Egan has clearly demonstrated that he's deeply concerned about the economic viability of the city of Philadelphia," Jameison said in the statement. "He also takes a strong stand on law and order, an issue that deeply affects Philadelphians." The decision of the GOP leaders must first be confirmed today by a vote of Republican ward leaders, but the group has never voted against Meehan's decisions during his 30 years as party boss. Egan will then compete against Democratic nominee Edward Rendell, selected in the May primary, and independent candidate Dennis Wesley, a conservative who dropped out of the Republican primary race last spring. A relative unknown next to Rendell, Egan must raise money quickly and attract publicity if he hopes to raise a serious challenge to the former district attorney in the November general election. Republican leaders appear to realize this. "Joe is relatively unknown at this point in time," Jameison said in the statement. "But by election day, everyone, Republicans and Democrats, will be extremely impressed with his knowledge of the city, the people and the issues affecting their lives." Over the past week, many of Egan's rivals for the Republican nomination bowed out of the nomination race and pledged their support to him. Former fire commissioner Joseph Rizzo, brother to Frank Rizzo, said last week that he would accept the GOP nomination if it were offered to him, but later announced he was battling prostate cancer. Several city newspapers continued to lobby for the nomination of municipal finance consultant Sam Katz. But by early this week, Katz, after talks with Republican leaders, said this was not his year and he would instead support Egan just as he had supported Rizzo. Egan's competitors in his current campaign for the city council at-large seat, incumbents Thatcher Longstreth and Joan Specter, had also been mentioned as possible contenders for the nomination. But Longstreth said this week that he thought someone more confident of their abilities to win the mayor's race should receive the nomination. And Specter had always been a dark horse candidate, since Egan had received more votes than Specter in the City Council primary race. Meehan is expected to select Frank Rizzo's son, Frank Jr., to take Egan's place in the race for the at-large seat. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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