New York City

Why Aren't People Taking Republican NYC Candidate Joe Lhota (Who Is Pretty Dang Libertarian, BTW) Seriously as a Potential Mayor?


I'm runnin' for mayor over here! ||| Andrew Hawkins, Crains New York
Andrew Hawkins, Crains New York

I don't expect to ever understand New York City politics, but there's something genuinely mystifying about the coverage of the clownshow passing for the Democratic Party mayoral primary (what with its boner narcissist, bullying progressive, and environmental-race-card-player all jostling for pole position). Which is to say, why do so many people think that the likely GOP nominee, former MTA head and longtime Guiliani economics guy Joe Lhota, has no prayer in a city that hasn't voted Democrat for mayor since before the Berlin Wall came down?

Here's some typical analysis from Ken Auletta in The New Yorker:

In New York City, a Republican candidate has only a slim chance of becoming mayor, as registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by about seven to one. Giuliani won two elections by promising to be tough on crime, and Bloomberg won three times by stressing the city's need to rebound economically, first after 9/11 and then after the 2008 recession. With no equivalent torch issue in sight this year, Bloomberg's successor most likely will be chosen by between five hundred thousand and seven hundred thousand voters, those who pick the winner of the Democratic primary—that is, by roughly ten per cent of the city's five million eligible voters. In effect, Bloomberg's strategist Kevin Sheekey told me, "For the first time in twenty-four years, New York City will not have a general election."

That's one theory. Another might be that New York voters choose non-Democrat executives as a form of restraint over progressive excess and the local Democratic machine, the latter of which is especially awful.

The Snooze endorsed him, too. |||

Anyway, the New York Post has a fun profile today of the great GOP hope, under the headline "Not your average Republican: Joe Lhota favors 'fiscal discipline'—as well as abortion, same-sex marriage and pot legalization." Here's how it begins:

He's not your average Republican candidate for mayor.

Joe Lhota calls himself a "new brand of Republican" — in favor of "fiscal discipline" but progressive on social issues: He's pro-choice on abortion, is fine with same-sex marriage, and is in favor of legalizing marijuana.

Asked when he last smoked pot, he said, "It's been 40 years. It's so long ago I can't remember. I probably had a full head of hair."

But Lhota does recall holding libertarian views when he was just 10 years old.

"In 1964, I tried to convince my grandfather, who was active in the New York City firefighters union, to vote for Barry Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson because at the time I thought his approach to limited government was right on," he recalled.

Whole thing, including digs at Michael Bloomberg's nannyism, here.

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  1. The headline answers its own question.

    1. Beat me to it.

    2. We all came here to make the same joke.

    3. Ditto.

    4. Republicans have won five times in a row? Clearly a Democrat is due.

  2. I can’t take him serioursly – he’s from NYC and hasn’t left for less insane pastures.

  3. Why would the DemOp media support a Republican especially one that is libertarianish?

  4. I live within the NY media area even though I never go there, ever. But it’s on my TV and I don’t get it either.

    At the gym they have on the standard networks. I am shocked every time I see a Democrat political add that ends with an endorsement from Chuck Schumer. What kind of hell are these people living in where an endorsement from Smuck gains votes?

    1. Endorsements don’t make any difference.

    2. So they’re not ignoring Libertarians because we’re a third party, they’re ignoring us because we’re libertarians?

      1. IIRC, he’s the Libertarian Party nominee too.

  5. It does seem a bit weird that Bloomberg had to convert to the R side to get a lock on the mayoralty himself after Giuliani, but now R is totes out of the question.

    1. I always forget that Bloomie’s a R. Probably cause he’s not, really.

      What a fuckstain, whatever the TEAM he’s on.

      1. Was…was an “R”. He’s been an Independent since 2007.

        1. He did receive the Republican nomination in 2009 though.

        2. Actually, he was a Democrat until he ran for mayor. He ran on the Republican ticket because the Democratic primary field was filled with a lot of candidates that would crowd him out. The R designation was strictly tactical.

          1. Exactly.

          2. Basically, there are so few Republicans in New York they can’t even win their own primary.

      2. As a fascist, he probably felt more comfortable with the Republican label.

    2. George W. Bush was the Dinkins of the Republican brand. Bloomberg abandoned it when it became less than socially fashionable.

  6. That’s one theory. Another might be that New York voters choose non-Democrat executives as a form of restraint over progressive excess and the local Democratic machine, the latter of which is especially awful.

    That would be the correct theory. Mark Green, the public advocate, was Bloomberg’s opponent the first time he ran for mayor (and before anyone had any real inkling how insane Bloomberg was). Bloomberg seemed relatively normal and rational, and Green was a radical leftist with seriously nutty economic ideas. Bloomberg won because the supposedly TEAM BLUE voters of NYC realized that Green was poison. Of course, Bloomberg was his own kind of poison, but yes, this is why it’s been Republican/Independent mayors since Dinkins.

    1. If they think the Machine is bad, why don’t they vote it out?

      1. Because they are schizophrenic. Remember, we’re talking about voters, not people who live there. Only a small percentage of residents vote. And those that do have their identities all wrapped up in the machine. They’re Democrats, damn it! And they want to vote Dem. But that crazy Dem candidate is…really crazy. So they’ll quietly vote otherwise. But the lesser political offices in the city are all filled with Democrats.

        It’s a retarded situation, don’t get me wrong. I moved out because I had had enough. I’m just trying to explain it to people who have never lived there. It’s a huge, complicated place.

        1. And that’s sort of their consistent on-side error. Democratic primary voters assume that since they “own” the city, the general election is just a formality. As a result, they vote for maximum derp. Then the general rolls around and the Dem-lights who don’t vote in the primaries look at the loon they’re stuck with and hold their nose and vote for the Republican.

          Really, that Lhota’s big opportunity. Right now, the logical choice for the Democrats would be Quinn or Thompson. Instead they went with Weiner until he exploded and turned to DeBlasio.

        2. Because they are schizophrenic.

          Schizophrenic doesn’t mean dual personality.

      2. If they think the Machine is bad, why don’t they vote it out?

        They don’t want a “friendly” visit from their local police union representatives?

      3. Well, they think the machine is bad. But, they don’t want to vote for anyone right of center. And those challenging the machine from the left are pretty well certifiable. The machine offers up candidates who are sufficiently liberal and sufficiently grounded in some semblance of reality to make it, at least to their minds, the least bad choice.

      4. They don’t. They like the machine, they just think sometimes the operators are bad, and if we could just get a better operator in there, everything would be fine.

    2. I think the “tough on crime” is a big part of it, though. Now that the city’s “cleaned up,” New Yorkers don’t want to go back to the crime-ridden old days, but they also don’t generally trust Democrats, or libertarian leaning Republicans, to be tough on crime.

  7. Seems no one has a Lhota time for someone who’s not TEAM BLUE.

    “Lhota Time” – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Or not.

    1. I am going with “not”

      1. That is indeed one of the options.

  8. Because New Yorkers love authoritarians. Anyone else just isn’t a serious candidate in that cesspool of voters.

    1. That’s not true. They do tend to love incumbents. But Bloomberg didn’t run as an authoritarian in 2001. The only seeming authoritarian vote for a non-incumbent mayor in my lifetime was Giuliani, and Dinkins beat him the 1st time. The city council doesn’t seem to be especially authoritarian for Democrats.

      1. “The city council doesn’t seem to be especially authoritarian for Democrats.”

        And it’s places like the city council that you see the machine’s influence most directly. It’s one of the oddities of machine politics. Ultimately, as corrupt as it may be, the machine looks to perpetuate itself. As a result, it generally avoids trying to do BIG THINGS. The thousand little slights and injustices the machine entails don’t exactly speak well of it. But, it avoids the delusions of grandeur that lead “visionary reformers” to turn everyone’s life upside down in pursuit of their little hobbyhorses. Given the politics of New York City, there’s something to be said for that.

  9. Actually, I was planning on voting for Lotta in the primaries. This article confirms my choice.

  10. Well, I was actaually planning on voting for Lhota. But I’m sure Lotta would be nice, as well

    1. Voting twice? Where do you think you are, Chicago?

      1. Hey, Tammany was doing it when Chicago was just a sleepy little town on Lake Michigan.

        1. Allllways with the East Coast “SIMPSONS DID IT FIRST!” thing.

  11. The problem is that New Yorkers want nannies. Otherwise they wouldn’t have elected Bloomberg three times. Lhota scares them because he would expect them to take some responsibility for themselves.

    1. No, he scares them because he will let other people take responsibility for themselves.

    2. True. People here are, by and large, in love with authority. They think the city needs a strongman to tell everyone what to do; whether the strongman has a D or an R after his name is of less relevance.

    3. No, New Yorkers really don’t enjoy nannies in gov’t. In fact they created the Public Advocate office as a kind of counter-nanny. It was a copycat of the same office some smaller municipalities in the region had, when the office of NY City Council pres. was abolished.

      Long term, what NYers are always doing is voting against the corruption of the previous people they voted in. The community school boards were established to counteract the corruption of the city board, then abolished to counteract their own corruption. The funny thing is that they’ll keep voting for incumbents a long time, and then get rid of them via term limits or abolishing their offices.

  12. If there aren’t 50,000 who cared enough to sign Jimmy McMillan’s petition to get on the ballot, when everyone knows the rent is too damn high, then they probably can’t be bothered to worry about their gradual loss of liberty, either.

    1. “The loss of liberty is…just damned fine by me.”

      1. Thunderous applause.

    2. It’s cause the liberty is too damned high.

  13. Why Aren’t People Taking Republican NYC Candidate Joe Lhota (Who Is Pretty Dang Libertarian, BTW)

    Question answered in headline.

  14. Not registered as an R (or D) here, but maybe I’ll vote for him in the general, I guess we’ll see.

  15. New Yorkers aren’t so much pro Democrat than they are anti Republican. Well, okay there’s a lot liberals.

    The national Republican party pretty much shits on everything about us. The population is probably 40/40/20 Super Liberal/Anti GOP/Conservative. It’s harder to find any consistencies because as hackey as it sounds it really is a melting pot of a 100 different groups.

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