Updated: 7:00 AM ET January 23, 2013
NYC - The Race For Mayor: Is Lhota Real?
For a political party whose voter registration has dipped below 15 percent and who face the first New York City election in which a majority of voters will be minority, the Republican Party of New York City is showing signs of life. Needless to say New York City Republicans have successfully elected two mayors in modern times; Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. It is important to note that both Giuliani and Bloomberg were elected only with the assistance of a second major party endorsement and line. Giuliani was cross-endorsed by the now obsolete Liberal Party while Bloomberg enjoyed the cross-endorsement of New York's Independence Party. Although the New York media continues to report that the eventual Republican nominee must merely obtain the support of three of the five NYC Republican county chairmen, this is a misnomer. In fact, designation for the Republican primary is controlled by the five Republican county committees meeting and voting in one convention utilizing a weighted voting system based on the Republican showing in the 2010 race for governor. Under this scenario the candidate who has the support of Staten Island and half of the county committee members in Queens would be near to 50 percent. Clearly Queens County GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa controls less than half of the county committee seats in that county, the balance being loyal to city council member Eric Ulrich. A candidate for mayor would be wise to start working individual county committee members in those areas where their weighted votes count for more. Further complicating the situation is the candidacy of former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. A former Democrat, Carrion is now registered as an unaffiliated - meaning he belongs to no party. Early reports indicate that Carrion has the inside track on the Independence Party nomination, which proved so crucial for Bloomberg. The possibility of a Hispanic candidate on the Republican and Independence party lines, particularly if former New York City Controller Bill Thompson is edged out in the Democratic primary ,has the Republican organizations in the Bronx and Brooklyn on board for Carrion. While former MTA boss Joe Lhota has real potential as a viable mayoral contender he needs a second credible ballot line. While Lhota could probably win the support of New York's Conservative Party I sincerely doubt that that nomination would be a general election plus. Lhota's support of gay-marriage equality and legalizing marijuana could also be a tough sell for Conservative Party boss Mike Long to sell to his troops. The best thing Long can do for Lhota is keep the Conservative line blank and nominate no one. Given Lhota's progressive social views why he does not seek the New York City Libertarian Party nomination is an open question. The Libertarians have successfully fielded a candidate for governor in the last six elections for that position. The party can be expected to field a mayoral candidate. The Libertarian label would not be anathema to New York voters who want to vote for a fiscal conservative but cannot bring themselves to vote for a Republican. Ex-madam Kristin Davis, who ran for governor as an Independent in 2010 has announced her intention to seek the Libertarian mayoral nomination, but that party's nomination is still up for grabs. The other wild card is grocery magnate John Catsimatidis who insists he is running for mayor. Few believe that Catsimatidis will really run and virtually all observers expect his efforts to entice New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly into the mayor's race in Catsimatidis stead, to fail. Just as Republicans have begun to elbow each other over that party's nomination, the Democratic nomination process is getting interesting. New York City Council President Christine Quinn has a hefty lead in both polls and fundraising yet few find her candidacy compelling and it is probable that her campaign is at its high-water mark today. Former Controller Bill Thompson stunned all the pundits by collecting $1 million in campaign funds in the last quarter. With New York City Controller John Liu's candidacy thoroughly discredited by the aroma of the fundraising scandal engulfing him, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio clearly has the inside track on the Working Families Party nomination and intends to "wag the dog" in the Democratic primary. A victory by Quinn which alienates minority voters or the nomination of de Blasio who is viewed by the business community as a stooge for the public employee unions could afford the right Republican candidate with a second significant party nomination, a real chance in November.