Category Archives: 2013 Mayoral Race

Lhota Lhessons?



People didn’t know how bad Bill de Blasio would be.  That was the most notable observation I could draw out of current Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis when I asked about her electoral predecessor, 2013 candidate Joe Lhota, and lessons from his campaign.  Lhota, a deeply knowledgable and skilled veteran of City government was crushed by nearly 50 percentage points in 2013.   With some notable similarities between her candidacy and Lhota’s, including running against the same opponent, I asked Malliotakis what would lead her campaign to a different outcome and what lessons she’s gleaned from Lhota’s campaign.

Beyond her initial observation that in 2013 “people didn’t know how bad de Blasio would be” but do now, Malliotakis simply gave a brief recap of her criticisms of the mayor.  Presumably she and her campaign staff have scrutinized the Lhota campaign history for instructive lessons, but she didn’t offer any in this press conference response.

Video:

Here’s our exchange:

Massey On Lhota Endorsing Malliotakis



I’m a huge Joe Lhota fan.  That was about all Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey had to say about Lhota endorsing rival candidate Nicole Malliotakis over Massey.  Lhota, the 2013 Republican and Conservative Party mayoral candidate, issued a statement this afternoon endorsing Malliotakis shortly before a Massey press conference.

I asked Massey for his reaction to the Lhota endorsement, including Lhota’s reference to Malliotakis as “the only real Republican in the race,” and whether he had approached Lhota for an endorsement.  His fairly lengthy answer included an attack on Bill de Blasio and touting his own candidacy, with only a brief complimentary mention of Lhota.  Massey described himself as an “independent candidate”  and cast the race as a “referendum on my character and my ability to manage” but didn’t offer any direct reaction or rebuttal to Lhota’s “only real Republican” comment. Continue reading Massey On Lhota Endorsing Malliotakis

Grimm Discusses Immigration



Rep. Michael Grimm today voiced a more optimistic view on immigration reform than many of his fellow House Republicans.  He described the existing immigration system as “completely broken” and “unsustainable” and said that on the question of “deal[ing] with those that are here” there’s “more common ground than you think” in the House of Representatives.  Grimm was dismissive of President Obama’s recently announced executive order, but expressed a belief that legislative action is possible.

We spoke with Grimm in Port Richmond, just after he handed out free turkeys to a group that likely included undocumented immigrants.  The distribution was in conjunction with the Rev. Erick Salgado and was held at the site of Rev. Salgado’s church on Staten Island, which was destroyed by fire several months ago.  I began by asking Grimm how a moment like this affects his thinking on immigration.  He did not respond directly on that point, but gave a detailed response on the broader issue of immigration.

Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade (Updated)



Many elected officials participated in todays Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, among them Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Tish James, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Update – Electeds on Parade:

We look at the Mayor’s, and other elected officials, reception:


de Blasio & Cuomo Remarks:

In what could be titled “a tale of two proclamations”, the Mayor and Governor each made brief remarks at the start of the parade and each presented their own proclamation to the parade organizers.  Neither took questions.  de Blasio invoked his father’s World War II service and injury, and subsequent struggles, in urging the audience to “never let their memories go” of service members injured or killed.  Cuomo described himself as a “Queens boy” for whom it is a “pleasure to be back on [his] home turf.”  H e declared it “a day to remember that freedom is not free”, noting that “we still have boys in harm’s way.” Their full remarks are here:

Steve & Teddy:

Congressman Steve Israel, chair of the DCCC, met a historic figure.  Every parade needs a little goofiness after all.

Lhota Post-Mortem: Chapter One



Let’s be clear, and fair:  The mayoral odds were overwhelmingly stacked against Joe Lhota.  Voter registration and demographics alone put him at an enormous disadvantage, giving him little chance of winning.  Absent a campaign collapse by Bill de Blasio exceeding that of Weiner and Quinn combined, a Lhota victory was improbable.

Lhota nonetheless missed a significant opportunity.  He was slow to accept and capitalize on the notion that he needed to convince voters that, despite safe streets and a fairly stable economy, a crisis was brewing and that Lhota would be the right choice to avoid it. When he did accept that notion, he chose the wrong crisis. Continue reading Lhota Post-Mortem: Chapter One

Lhota’s Election Night (Updated x 2)



Here is the full statement that Joe Lhota made to the press after his concession speech.  The visuals on the concession speech were poor for TV/video cameras, and the campaign provided this additional opportunity for TV/video.

Update – Concession Speech:

Here is Joe Lhota’s concession speech.

Update #2 – Primary Victory Speech:

To complete the record, here is Lhota’s complete primary night victory speech.

Lhota Wraps Up (Updated x 2)



Joe Lhota concluded his campaign today, with his last scheduled campaign event a joint appearance greeting voters with former mayor Rudy Giuliani at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue.  Displaying a sense of relief that the campaign is over, and buoyed by the experienced campaigner accompanying him, Lhota appeared to enjoy his time with voters.  Giuliani reveled in the moment, laughing, smiling and joking as greeted well-wishers and posed for photos.

Update #2 – Rudy Unleashed:

Here’s a special look at Rudy Giuliani’s appearance this morning with Joe Lhota.

Update – Mayor Selfie:

Many people took selfies with Lhota and Giuliani.  Rudy Giuliani, no stranger to having his picture taken, shared some thoughts about self lies.

Press Q&A:

Afterwards, Lhota and Giuliani spoke with the press.  Here is their full Q&A.

Lhota Country



Joe Lhota visited Lhota Country Saturday afternoon; Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.  Walking a commercial strip for about an hour, he received a friendly, supportive response.  It was modest in quantity as there were not any arranged campaign events or rallies and the street was not particularly busy, but most people were friendly and supportive, with no visible signs of hostility.

Walking Tour:

Here are a few revealing excerpts from Joe Lhota’s walking tour.


Labor Contracts:

A looming issue for the next mayor are the currently expired municipal labor contracts.  With every city municipal labor contract having expired during the Bloomberg administration, unions are expecting new contracts and significant amounts of retroactive pay.  During a Q&A with the press, I asked Lhota about his role in the budget negotiations of 1995/1996.  Those negotiations produced the so-called “double zero” or “zeroes for heroes” labor contracts, which had no increases for two years.  The day before, when campaigning for Lhota on Staten Island, Rudy Giuliani had praised Lhota for his role in those negotiations.

Joe & Rudy (Updated x 2)



Yesterday Rudy Giuliani joined Joe Lhota on the campaign trail, visiting two senior centers in Staten Island.  Giuliani was the dominant presence, touting his record and the changes he wrought on the City as mayor while slamming Bill de Blasio.  He also fired off the occasional plug in support of Joe Lhota.

Giuliani and Lhota held two press conferences, one at each stop.  This excerpt from their first stop, in Great Kills, captures Giuliani’s message.

Update – Zeroes for Heroes:

In this clip, Rudy Giuliani focuses on the importance of an “independent” mayor, describing “20 years of mayors who’ve been able to say, if it was bad for the city, go to hell.”  In describing the value of a “mayor independent of these unions”, Giuliani noted that  Lhota “helped negotiate” the municipal union contracts that included two years of no raises –  the “double zero” or “zeroes for heroes” contracts of 1995 and 1996.

Update #2 – A Changed City:

The Lhota campaign has not fully figured out how to deal with Mayor Bloomberg.  At times Lhota is complimentary of Bloomberg, even highly so.  At other times, on particular issues, Lhota can be highly critical.  Lhota seems pulled between the reality that he needs Bloomberg-likers as the basic component of any winning coalition he could hope to assemble and his need to offer something new or different.  He’s never embraced the role of an unequivocal Bloomberg supporter, and whether a cause or an effect, Bloomberg has reciprocated.

The late reemergence of Mayor Giuliani reminds us of how the city has changed since he left office.  Among the many ways that it’s changed are the city’s demographics, expectations of how government should operate and in where political power rests.

I asked Mayor Giuliani how he thinks the city has changed since he left office, and how he thinks that may affect the next mayor.

de Blasio In de Bronx (Updated)



Bill de Blasio visited the true forgotten borough of New York City politics today, holding a noisy and crowded news conference under the el at Fordham Road and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.

Charlie-whistle:

The press conference started with an assist from Rep. Charles Rangel, who appears to have some experience in front of a noisy crowd.

Update – Full Press Conference:

Here is the complete press conference, rumbling trains and all.

Rocky v. Rocky (Updated)



Last night, in the final 2013 mayoral debate, Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio both claimed the mantle of Rocky Balboa.  Hosted by WNBC-TV and co-sponsored by NBC New York, Telemundo Nueva York, The Wall Street Journal and the New York City Campaign Finance Board, the debate was a free flowing affair featuring some serious discussion and some personal irritation.  While not a nasty affair, it nonetheless had both candidates displaying frustration and irritation: Lhota at his lack of attention and momentum against what he views as a vastly less qualified opponent, and de Blasio at his going-nowhere opponent constantly painting him as “dangerous” and talking about David Dinkins and the city’s ’80s & early ’90s troubles.

Lhota Q&A:

As Lhota walked in for his post-debate Q&A the press pack converged in on him, prompting some audible consternation and a little shoving.  The early crush of attention dissolved a few minutes later, however, as Bill de Blasio came into the far side of the large room.  Like ball bearings to a more powerful magnet, the press pack around Lhota suddenly thinned, drawn by the more potent presence across the room.

Here is most of Lhota’s Q&A.  Although I stayed with Lhota longer than most of the press, I moved to de Blasio as a Czech TV reporter began asking Lhota about his Czech heritage.

Update – de Blasio Q&A:

Surfer Joe (Updated x 2)



Today in Breezy Point residents commemorated the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy with a public ceremony and a volunteer effort at planting dune grass on a long sand dune that residents recently created.  Many elected officials and candidates, including Joe Lhota, Phil Goldfeder, Joe Addabbo, Eric Ulrich, Tish James, Scott Stringer and John Liu attended.

As we walked from the ceremony toward the ocean and the dune, I asked Joe Lhota whether he likes going to the beach for fun.  Turns out that he loves the ocean and loves to surf.

Update:

In the past three days, both mayoral candidates have talked sports in Breezy Point.  Sunday, Bill de Blasio received a less-than-welcome invitation to play basketball while visiting Breezy Point.

Update #2 – Lhota Press Q&A:

After planting dune grass, Joe Lhota spoke with the press.  He sought to keep the focus on Sandy recovery, but also made some revealing comments about his decision to run and some of the tactical considerations in his campaign.  He declined to criticize Bill de Blasio’s absence from Rockaway today, saying that there are many places and ways to commemorate the anniversary of Sandy and that he is “not going to use this as a day to politic.”

Lhota spoke very highly of the Blooomberg administration’s resiliency plans, describing the Plan NYC report as a “great roadmap” and an important part of Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy.

He seemed genuinely surprised by a reporter asking why he hasn’t done more to campaign on his role in recovery from both Sandy and the September 11th attacks, saying that he is “running on the future, not running on the past” and that “glorifying tragedies is not something that I think is important in campaigning.”  He added, perhaps naively, that “I think everyone knows what I did.”

Lhota also gave a detailed look at his decision to run for mayor and his related discussions with Governor Cuomo.