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’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 selflies.

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.

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.

Lhota Stays on the Attack



Today Joe Lhota held a press conference to express his support for charter schools.  It’s a clear distinction between himself and Bill de Blasio, who despite some recent tone changes, is decidedly unfriendly towards charter schools.

Lhota took press questions on a variety of topics, including charters, independent election expenditures and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling issued yesterday, Ray Kelly, P-Tech and the president’s visit, whether as mayor he would substantially change the way that DOE interacts with charter schools and whether he has any former schools chancellors or other school leaders whom he views as good models or examples of what he would like his schools chancellor to do.

Among his responses: condemning Bill de Blasio for “hypocrisy” in criticizing the court ruling allowing expanded independent expenditure funding but benefiting from such spending, including a reported $1 million ad buy by the United Federation of Teachers.  Lhota’s attacks included asking, concerning de Blasio and the UFT, “how far down does Bill sit in their pocket?”  Lhota also expressed a fear, should de Blasio win, of “watching the UFT pick his pocket” in contract negotiations.

Here is the full Q & A portion of the press conference.

Lhota In East Flatbush (Updated x 2)



As a former senior deputy to Rudy Giuliani, Joe Lhota has frequently been asked about Giuliani and Lhota’s time as his budget director and deputy mayor.  Lhota speaks highly of Giuliani and, as the de Blasio v. Lhota election has at times morphed into a rerun of Dinkins v. Giuliani, enthusiastically promoted the Giuliani legacy.  Giuliani was in many ways an extremely successful mayor, overseeing a dramatic improvement in public safety and more broadly restoring the sense that the City was governable.   Lhota rightly extolls those accomplishments, fairly claiming a degree of credit for them and arguing that he will govern in that mold.

Lhota seems largely unable to simultaneously deal with the negative aspect of Giuliani’s legacy, however, muddling the effectiveness of his pitch to voters from the Giuliani era.  Giuliani was a powerful personality who belittled and excoriated those who opposed him, often looking like a bully.  As his term drew to a close he was washed up as a political leader, the public exhausted by the endless operatic drama and glad to see him go.  Redeemed by his extraordinary response to the September 11th attacks, Giuliani’s negatives have been largely ignored since he left office.  They’re present in the 2013 mayoral discussion however, both overtly and beneath the surface, generating a visceral rejection in many voters.  Lhota appears unwilling or unable to deal with that negative reaction, but unless he can better separate the positive and negative strands of the Giuliani legacy Lhota seems unlikely to fully capitalize on the positive Giuliani legacy.

I asked Lhota about it today at a press conference in East Flatbush.

Update – Personality Glimpses:

Here are two very brief clips displaying a bit of Lhota’s personality. In the first, he brusquely dismisses a question asking how he would have managed his campaign differently (noting in fairness to Lhota, election day is still 12 days away).  In the second, a brief quip illustrates his dry humor.

Update #2 – Full Press Conference:

Here is video of the full press conference.

Dave & Rudy, Bill & Joe (Updated)



Last night Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota had the second of their three televised debates.  Their respective former mayoral bosses, David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani, loomed large during and after the debate.

Bill de Blasio:

Here is Bill de Blasio’s full press Q&A following the debate.

Joe Lhota:

Here is Joe Lhota’s full press Q&A following the debate.

de Blasio, Crown Heights & 2013



On Thursday, both mayoral candidates addressed the Crown Heights riots through the prism of Bill de Blasio’s tenure as a junior city hall staffer.  By de Blasio’s description, he was working in City Hall on those days and received an unspecified number of phone calls from concerned community leaders.  He further says, however, that as a junior staff member he was not actively engaged in responding to the rioting.  Lhota has seized upon de Blasio’s receipt of phone calls without further engagement as evidence of de Blasio’s lack of readiness to govern the city.

There is much to unravel in the current discussion of this ugly 20 year old chapter in the City’s history, particularly the inverted resuscitation of the bitter Dinkins/Giuliani rivalry.  Giuliani, of course, redeemed his initial loss by besting Dinkins in their second and final mayoral election and is widely viewed as having rescued the City from the long-running street crime epidemic that continued into the Dinkins era.  In the 2013 inverted edition, however, it is the Dinkins junior staffer who is electorally crushing the once high-ranking Giuliani aide.  Forgotten by much of the City, the riots nonetheless remain a paradigmatic moment for the man elected in part on public revulsion of the City’s response to the riots and for his former deputy.  Whether that former Giuliani deputy can transform the failures of 1991 into 2013 electoral gain remains unanswered.

Lhota Talks



Joe Lhota spoke with the press today, following a visit to the Young at Heart Senior Center at Regina Pacis, on 65th Street in Dyker Heights.

Among the topics Lhota discussed were his fundraising, Bill de Blasio’s role in city government during the Crown Heights riots of 1991 and how Lhota may close the enormous gap between de Blasio’s and Lhota’s electoral chances as shown by recent public polls.

Lhota In Far Rockaway (Updated)



Joe Lhota visited several organizations in Far Rockaway on Thursday, including the Achiezer Community Resource Center on Beach 9th Street and the Torah Academy for Girls on Beach 6th Street.

We spoke with Lhota concerning some Sandy related topics at the Sh’or Yoshuv Rabbinical College on the Rockaway/Lawrence border.

Press Q&A:

After touring the Achiezer Community Resource Center, Lhota spoke with the press.  Among the topics: the need to restructure city government for the first time in 11 years, Lhota’s recent ad and his view of Bill de Blasio, Banksy, the number of police officers and his synagogue mini-kerfuffle.