Candidate Lhota loses Molinari, keeps Scamardella

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One high-profile Joe Lhota supporter said he's tired of waiting for a phone call from the former MTA chairman, and is now backing Adolfo Carrion Jr. for mayor.

Former Staten Island borough president Guy Molinari said he was scheduled to endose Lhota last week, and even told a newspaper about it, but Lhota's campaign never finalized details of the event. Last week came and went and Molinari said he hadn't heard a word from Lhota's team. So he's switching sides.

"I have the utmost respect for Guy Molinari, but to read about his announcement in the press was very surprising. As always, I wish Guy all the best," Lhota said in a statement, provided by his recently hired adviser-spokesperson, Susan del Percio.

Lhota got a late start in running for mayor, having first had to disentangle himself from engagement as M.T.A. chair that was supposed to have lasted considerably longer than it did before assembling a campaign team and beginning to raise money.

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He's relying on a large network of former colleagues from his days in the Giuliani administration, and business executives he worked with before and after his eight-year stint in City Hall during the Giuliani administration.

The Molinari endorsement is a coup for Carrion, the former White House urban affairs director and Bronx borough president who left the Democratic Party and would need the support of three of the city's Republican county chairmen support to enter the Republican primary. He has the support of two so far: Craig Eaton of Brooklyn and Jay Savino of the Bronx. Molinari is not a chairman, but is influential among Republicans in his borough.

"I've indicated I'm learning towards an endorsement of Joe Lhota and nothing has changed," said the Staten Island chairman, Robert Scamardella, in a brief interview.

He told me he has spoken with Lhota and Molinari but declined to reveal details of those conversations.

One of the reasons Lhota is popular among political insiders (to say nothing of reporters) is that he's been unusually accessible as a public official. That seems to be changing somewhat, now that he's a candidate.

Other candidates seeking the Republican nomination include billionaire supermarket and oil magnet John Catsimatidis, Doe Fund founder George McDonald and local publisher Tom Allon.

UPDATE: Eaton, a supporter of Carrion, said he encouraged Molinari to meet with Carrion months ago, and that Molinari came away impressed.

"He was always supportive of Adolfo until Joe Lhota threw his hat in the ring," Eaton said in a brief interview.

"This is probably one of the most bizarre mayoral elections I've seen in decades," he also said, referring to the unexpectedly large Republican field.