Bloomberg deprives de Blasio of a punching bag, and Lhota of validation

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A week ago, the New York Post ran a story headlined "Set to endorse Lhota," citing information from City Hall insiders.

In a radio interivew this morning, Bloomberg said that in fact he will not be making an endorsement in the mayor's race at all.

This isn't all bad for the Republican nominee, Joe Lhota, who has begun to position himself as a "change" candidate (around the time, coincidentally or not, that he would have been informed that he was not going to get Bloomberg's official support).

It's already clear what Bloomberg thinks of the likely Democratic nominee, Bill de Blasio, who soared to a first-place finish, and possibly an outright win for the nomination, by appealing to people's resentment of the current mayor.

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De Blasio told supporters at a rally yesterday, "I am proud to be on the side of all the people who were left behind in the Bloomberg era."

The candidate who was most closely aligned with Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, came in third place, ahead of one candidate dogged by a federal conviction of two fund-raising associates and another who is internationally famous for his sexting activity.

The good news in this for Lhota is that he won't be directly answerable for any further boneheaded comments from Bloomberg about de Blasio, and that Bloomberg's official neutrality deprives de Blasio of a potential source of fresh anti-mayor material

But the opportunity cost for Lhota is significant. He's at a severe structural advantage in the general election, running against a Democrat who is very much on the rise (and at least one other candidate, Independence Party nominee Adolfo Carrion, who will be looking for pro-business votes).

De Blasio has the anti-Bloomberg vote locked up anyway, and Lhota will need the support of everyone else—the people who are less moved by the sight of de Blasio's family than they are by the thought that he's going to squander what they see as Bloomberg's gains. The people who might be inclined to take Michael Bloomberg's word for it when he tells them to choose Lhota.