Michael Bloomberg is central to many of the challenges facing Joe Lhota in his uphill quest to be New York City’s next mayor. Although they’re far from identical, as highly accomplished managers Lhota and Bloomberg share a basic characteristic, appearing to be driven more by process and accomplishment than ideology. Lhota’s not casting himself as the “next Bloomberg”, however, and is trying to find a way to effectively navigate the pluses and minuses in Bloomberg’s legacy. Central to that is convincing voters who think that Bloomberg did well overall, and that the City has improved during his tenure, that Lhota is the candidate capable of effectively managing the city, even as those voters are ready for a change of personality in City Hall. We spoke with Lhota at the Feast of San Gennaro.
On Friday, Bloomberg announced that he does not plan to endorse a candidate in the mayor’s race. Lhota put a brave face on, characterizing it as “excellent news” conveying the message that “governance is really more important than politics” when asked about it by NY1’s Grace Rauh. Perhaps, but Lhota is in the zero-sum game of politics, and no election victory means no governance.
Differing With Bloomberg:
Among Lhota’s challenges is how he casts himself vis-a-vis the Bloomberg administration and it’s policies. He generally speaks highly of the Bloomberg administration, but offers a variety of pointed critiques of specific actions. Lhota has recently cast himself as a “change” mayor, seeking to harness the evolving sense among much of the electorate that Bloomberg’s time has run. I asked Lhota how he would differ from Bloomberg.
A Voter’s View of Bloomberg:
A brief encounter with a passing voter encapsulates Lhota’s Bloomberg challenge. She appears to be a core part of support Lhota needs; what the pundits refer to as a “white outer-borough ethnic”, without whom Lhota has no chance of winning. She’s no Bloomberg-lover, however, beginning their encounter with “I hope you do a better job than that last idiot”.