Joe Lhota, ‘classic northeast Republican,’ at an LGBT-friendly celebration of St. Pat’s

Among Democrats, Republican Joe Lhota (white sweater). (Azi Paybarah via flickr)
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At the annual St. Pats for All Parade in Queens, LGBT paradegoers are allowed (and encouraged) to march with their signs and banners, which is expressly prohibited by some other St. Patrick's Day parades around the city, including the big one along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The St. Pat's for All parade in Queens has grown each of the 14 years it's been held, and is basically a must-attend for Democrats running for office citywide. This weekend, it also drew a Republican mayoral candidate whose name isn't Bloomberg.

As it turned out, Joe Lhota, the former M.T.A. chairman and former deputy mayor for Rudy Giuliani, had trouble getting past one of the barricades, which was guarded by a well-meaning but overzealous parade volunteer. But once inside, Lhota, who supports federal legalization of same-sex marriage, marched the length of the parade. A campaign aide holding a giant "Lhota for mayor" sign followed him along the sidewalk.

As Lhota walked along Skillman Avenue, I asked him about being the only Republican candidate running for mayor marching in the parade. "The best part of New York City is its diversity," he said. "You gotta celebrate it. You really do."

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He also said he planned to march in the "big" parade in Manhattan.

I asked him if Republican primary voters were as supportive of LGBT rights as he was.

"It is evolving rapidly, no matter where I go," he said. "The law has been changed on same-sex marriages and it's really opened up everyone's eyes. They're all our brothers and sisters. It's as simple as that."

"I'm a classic northeast Republican," he said later.

Other candidates seeking the Republican nomination include billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, local publisher Tom Allon, Doe Fund founder George McDonald, and former White House director of urban policy Adolfo Carrion Jr.