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Queens Chronicle

MTA’s Lhota hopes to derail mayoral hopefuls

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Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:27 am, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

Is there a Whole Lhota Love out there for now ex-MTA Chairman Joe Lhota? He sure hopes so. The transit chief quit his job Wednesday so he could run for another one — mayor of New York City.

Lhota, who served as a deputy mayor under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is hoping to grab the Republican nomination for the biggest seat in town.

That puts him up against several declared or likely GOP candidates: Manhattan newspaper publisher Tom Allon, former Bronx Borough President Adolpho Carrion, Doe Fund founder George McDonald and supermarket chain owner John Catsimatidis.

Unlike the first two names at least, Lhota has been a Republican for more than a few weeks. That may give him one advantage among the party faithful if there’s a primary next year. And unlike all but Carrion, he’s been in government for years — though whether a lack of public sector experience is seen as a negative for a given candidate is an open question (see “Michael R. Bloomberg”).

Lhota’s timing is interesting in that he resigned as MTA chairman just after the agency’s board approved another round of fare hikes. Doesn’t sound like the way to win a popularity contest, but maybe experience in “making the tough decisions” and taking the abuse from the public that comes with that, is just the thing to prep somebody for what is often called the second hardest job in the country.

Whoever wins a Republican primary for mayor, if there is one, will be facing any of several big-name Democrats in the running for 2013: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu or former Comptroller Bill Thompson Jr. And that’s only if no one else gets into the race.

Progressives make endorsements

The City Council’s Progressive Caucus, composed of the legislative body’s most liberal members, last week announced its first endorsements for the 2013 elections. The choices were made in conjunction with labor groups, activists and donors.

Two of the three endorsements were made for races in Queens. In the 31st Council District, which covers Southeast Queens and the Rockaways, the caucus endorsed Donovan Richards, chief of staff to Councilman James Sanders Jr., who won election to the state Senate and will take his seat there in January. Richards faces a number of competitors.

On the opposite side of the borough, the group endorsed Costa Constantinides for the 22nd District Seat, which will be vacated at the end of 2013 by Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., due to term limits. Constantinides is a Democratic district leader, attorney and former president of the Queens County Young Democrats. Vallone is planning to run for Queens borough president, a race in which the field of contenders has gotten crowded.

Avella on Smith, Indy Dems

One of the other hopefuls for borough president is state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside). Avella gets to stay in the Senate if he doesn’t win the 2013 BP race, since he’s not up for re-election to Albany until 2014. Meanwhile one thing on his mind is control of the Senate, where a group of rogue Democrats is caucusing with the Republicans, keeping the establishment Democrats from taking control.

Avella said most members of the Independent Democratic Caucus had some reason to break from the main party, but he’s puzzled about why Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Jamaica) joined the group.

“He’s coming from a very strongly Democratic district,” Avella said. “He may find himself facing a strong opponent one day because of this.”

Joseph Orovic contributed to this article.

Last week’s column, “Koch’s Katz endorsement for BP: a slap at Vallone?” misstated which endorsement was the last one former Mayor Ed Koch had made in Queens. His most recent endorsement was for Assemblyman Rory Lancman for Congress, in a primary held this year that Lancman lost. We regret the error.

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