Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the MTA’s 207th Street Overhaul Shop to tout his “Subway Action Plan.” Now fully funded through a state budget provision that forced New York City to provide half of the required funding, the Subway Action Plan is intended to address some of the myriad problems facing the subway system. Among those accompanying Cuomo was MTA Chairman Joe Lhota and TWU President John Samuelsen. A post-tour press conference included Samuelsen attacking Mayor Bill de Blasio as Cuomo stood stone faced.
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.
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→
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→
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.
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 selfies.
Afterwards, Lhota and Giuliani spoke with the press. Here is their full Q&A.
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.
Here are a few revealing excerpts from Joe Lhota’s walking tour.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is Joe Lhota’s full press Q&A following the debate.
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