Who’s afraid of Joe Lhota?

Briefing: Lhota. (MTA via flickr)
Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

Joe Lhota is reportedly leaving the M.T.A. less than a year after taking the top job there, in order to run for mayor.

As a Republican candidate, Lhota would be working against a massive registration disadvantage, and he wouldn't have either the resources of Michael Bloomberg or the name recognition of his old boss Rudy Giuliani to help him overcome it. (Giuliani had been a high-profile prosecutor and had run for mayor once before he eventually won.)

And he'll probably have to work out a way to get himself onto a useful minor-party line, which won't be easy.

But despite that, and despite early polls of a hypothetical race that show him losing by a ton to every serious Democrat, the existing candidates are taking him seriously.

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

Lhota, after all, will be able to present himself to editorial boards and to the donor class as a competent manager, something the Democrats are going to have to work to demonstrate about themselves. He's decent on his feet, notwithstanding his occasional bursts of temper. And though he's a Republican, he seems to be a social liberal, having told Dana Rubinstein recently (for an article that you really should read if you want to know about this guy) that he favors legalization of marijuana and recognition of same-sex marriage at the federal level. 

A consultant for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called in to WNYC to suggest that voters won't look kindly on someone who oversaw a fare hike at the M.T.A., as Lhota has (and anyone running the authority would have). Certainly, it's true that the M.T.A., a traditional whipping boy for politicians everywhere, is a highly inconventional route to political popularity.

Also, Lhota's attachment to Giuliani isn't an unalloyed positive—the former mayor, a very partisan Republican, is still a divisive figure in New York City.

Potentially more useful to Lhota is his attachment to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who made this prospective bid possible by appointing Lhota to his current job, which he is widely considered to have excelled at, particularly after Hurricane Sandy. 

Unlike 2009, when, as attorney general, Cuomo endorsed and campaigned with his fellow Democrat Bill Thompson, the governor has indicated that he's not going to make an endorsement in this year's mayor's race.

We'll see how that indication holds up if Lhota runs, and especially if he starts looking like he actually has a chance of winning.

Quote

Lhota was a "more decent human being than [predecessor Jay] Walder"—TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen

Recommended

"To his core supporters, this is a moment that will define what a second-term Obama presidency will look like — whether it will be closer to the soaring aspirations that set liberal hearts aflutter in 2008 or more like the back-room deal making that characterized the four years that followed." [Peter Baker]

M.T.A. chair Joe Lhota is stepping down Friday. [Matt Flegenheimer and Jim Dwyer]

Quinn consultant Josh Isay called WNYC to say, "Voters aren't going to forget that MTA chief Joe Lhota saddled New Yorkers with a bus and subway fare hike just prior to running for mayor." [Andrea Bernstein]

Gun sales are up in Rochester. [Jon Hand and Brian Sharp]

From Capital

What went wrong with O.E.M. during Hurricane Sandy, and how did volunteer organizations step in? [Jacob Siegel]

Nancy Pelosi doesn't see a reason for Hillary Clinton not to run in 2016. [Reid Pillifant]

Rep. Peter King cheers an investigation into the movie Zero Dark Thirty. [Reid Pillifant]

"The mysterious death of an idea to improve energy efficiency in New York" [Dana Rubinstein]

Former councilman Sal Albanese opened a campaign committee to run for mayor. [Azi Paybarah]

Events

10 a.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo attends a regional economic development council meeting, at the Hart Theatre in the Egg Center for Performing Arts, in Albany.

12:30 p.m. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a Q&A after making an announcement at 107-02 Merrick Boulevard, in Queens.

4 p.m. Bloomberg and others attend the wake for Frank Macchiarola, at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, in Brooklyn.

Newtown

President Obama will announce a task force to combat gun violence today. [Reid Epstein]

Vice President Joe Biden will oversee the administration's efforts. [Scott Wilson]

A Times front-page story says gun-control efforts are gaining momentum. [Adam Nagorney]

A conservative editorial board says there has been a drop in workplace shootings because workers are more alert and, unlike in "gun-free zones by schools," would-be shooters know they'll face resistance. [Wall Street Journal]

Headline: "NRA Reactivates Facebook Page, A Perfect Forum For Enlightened Discourse." [Jen Chung]

In an op-ed, Bloomberg said Obama can appoint a director to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. [Daily News]

Headline: "Kirsten Gillibrand No Longer Keeps Guns Under Her Bed" [Ruby Cramer]

The 2013 races in New Jersey and Virginia will offer the first real tests of Newtown's political impact. [Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns]

2013

Lhota is running. [David Seifman and Jennifer Fermino]

News of Lhota's departure comes right before the M.T.A. is expected to approve toll hikes on Wednesday. [Ted Mann]

"Known for his frankness and occasional temper…" [Jill Colvin]

"Business leaders have been clamoring for Lhota to run because of concerns the Democratic field is weak." [Ken Lovett, Pete Donohue, Celeste Katz and Ginger Adam Otis]

Rudy Giuliani was singing Lhota's praises. [CBS New York]

The real scandal in the Chirlane McCray story is the stereotype women still face. [Alexis Grenell]

City Hall

New York police officers can no longer ask motorists “Where are the drugs?” or “Do you have a weapon?” without a "founded suspicion" of criminal behavior. [J. David Goodman]

R.I.P. Frank Macchiarola, reform-minded former New York City schools chancellor. [New York Post]

A lawyer representing Agudath Israel of America and other Orthodox Jewish groups said they have a first amendment right to perform metzitzah b'peh. [Russ Buettner]

Albany

Cuomo has improved the state's finances, but he hasn't permanently fixed them, according to the Ravitch-Volcker report. [E.J. McMahon]

Cuomo's spokesman said major credit agencies have given him high marks. [Thomas Kaplan]

"Cuomo: Let the market identify casino sites" [James Odato]

The Bronx surrogate judge was censured, but not removed, after a former campaign aide he appointed to several cases collected unauthorized and excessive fees. [Andy Newman]

More on State Senator Bill Perkins' unhappiness with the governor. [Jon Campbell]

Washington

An independent investigation faulted the State Department for providing inadequate security in Benghazi. [Eric Schmitt and Michael Gordon]

Republicans are encouraged to reject Obama's tax deal, "Let the sequester take effect as planned," and go into 2013 fighting spending. [Wall Street Journal]

Chris Christie is trying to raise $2 million by the end of the year. [Maggie Haberman]

Media

Michael Barbaro and Charles Gasparino read each other's tweets very closely. [Twitter]

Front Pages