The Last Thing Joe Lhota Wants Is to Talk About Running for Mayor

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Poor Joe Lhota is becoming a victim of his own success. All the MTA chairman wanted to do in Washington Thursday, he said, was to wrangle $5 billion in federal aid to restore the hit the system took from Hurricane Sandy. But all the reporters there wanted to do was ask him if he was going to run for mayor. And while Lhota tried to change the subject in Washington, his newfound biggest fan Rudy Giuliani was waving the Lhota-for-mayor flag back in New York. The Senate subcommittee hearing at which Lhota touted the MTA's performance during Hurricane Sandy was "sparsely attended," the New York Times reported. Outside, reporters only wanted to talk city politics. Lhota was good-humored about the attention, but it must be frustrating to have your stated mission overshadowed by your unstated political aspirations, especially as success in that mission will help with later success in those aspirations.

"'Why do you guys want to talk about politics in Washington?' he said with more than a hint of irony in his tone," according to the Times. But he didn't deny he would make a run. "The time will come when I make a decision," he said, but he insisted that so far, "I haven't thought about it at all."

Giuliani is sure thinking about it. After his camp made it clear the former mayor was an "enthusiastic supporter" of a potential Lhota mayoral run, Giuliani reiterated that support to CBS New York's Marcia Kramer. "Could this guy be a great mayor? Yeah, absolutely. He’s got all the talents," Giuliani said. "He’d be exactly what New York City needs." But as the Times' Clyde Haberman pointed out, if Lhota does decide to run, he'd better be wary of Giuliani's "kiss of death," as most of the candidates the former mayor has endorsed (except Mayor Michael Bloomberg) wound up washing out. For now, Lhota would very much like to keep the conversation focused on the MTA and how well it weathered the storm under his leadership.