Lhota Is Resigning As MTA Chief, Probably So He Can Run for Mayor

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images2012 Getty Images

A month ago, Rudy Giuliani kick-started public speculation about Joe Lhota running for mayor in 2013, but the MTA chairman has refused to comment, saying the public officers' law forbids him from even discussing the possibility. He won't have to worry about that much longer, as four sources tell the New York Times Lhota has informed the Cuomo administration that he'll be stepping down on Friday. Lhota resigning from a job he loves would seem to suggest that he's pretty serious about running for mayor, but people close to the MTA chief say we shouldn't make that assumption. The Times reports that the move will merely allow Lhota to "engage in the kind of deep deliberations, with political operatives and potential donors," according to a source. “That part ain’t happening so soon,” another source told the Daily News. “He hasn’t decided to run yet.”

Supposedly Lhota feels that to make the decision, "you probably need to talk to more people than he has been talking to,” which does make sense since he'd be facing a tough battle. Though Giuliani is enthusiastically backing his former deputy mayor and many in the business community seem excited about his potential candidacy, Mayor Bloomberg reportedly shot him down when he told him he was thinking of entering the race, and some Republican leaders already seem committed to other candidates. In a Republican primary, Lhota is likely to face off with a slew of former Democrats, including former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. and supermarket billionaire John Catsimatidis. And of course, there's also a strong Democratic field. A recent poll had Lhota losing to an "unnamed Democrat" 60 to 9.

The timing of Lhota's resignation is a bit unfortunate as well. He'll make his next public appearance on Wednesday, when the MTA is expected to approve a fare hike. If Lhota does step down on Friday, one of his last acts on the job will be jacking up MetroCard prices for potential voters.