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Giuliani Says He'll Back Lhota In Possible Race For Mayor

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani thinks Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota would make a perfect successor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Jack Menges, political adviser for Giuliani, told the Wall Street Journal that Giuliani will do everything he can to help elect Lhota if the chairman decides to enter the race.

Menges said Giuliani would endorse Lhota if he became a candidate.

Lhota, a registered Republican, declined to comment. It was not clear Wednesday if he is considering entering the race.

Lhota served as Giuliani's budget director, finance commissioner and deputy mayor for operations, during Giuliani's term as mayor from 1994 until 2001.

The MTA chairman has been widely praised for his handling of the transit system after Superstorm Sandy.

Lhota has also made headlines for some caustic remarks directed at Bloomberg. Earlier this month, the New York Times quoted him as he spoke with New York director of state operations Howard Glaser about when the Queens-Midtown Tunnel could reopen after the storm.

Lhota told Glaser the tunnel could open Friday, and said Bloomberg, "like an idiot," publicly predicted that the tunnel might not open until the weekend, according to the New York Times report.

The New York Daily News reported Lhota later called Bloomberg to apologize.

Political analysts talked about a possible Lhota candidacy last week.

"There's no question that Joe Lhota would be an interesting candidate, could be a threat. Why? He's done a terrific job of getting the subway system, the bus system and the regional commuter rails running again after Hurricane Sandy and it's something you could really run with," Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf told WCBS 880's Rich Lamb last week.

Sheinkopf cautioned that the path may be a bit more difficult for Lhota, should he choose to jump into the race, because of the demographic make-up of New York City.

"Generally, it's very difficult because of the registration edge for Democrats to be defeated in mayoral elections. But we haven't had a Democrat elected to the top office in 20 years, so anything can happen," Sheinkopf said.

Former Mayor Ed Koch said last week that Lhota is a well-qualified candidate that Republicans could be happy to support.

"I'm not supportive of his candidacy and I believe he will lose to the Democrat who is running and I am supporting Christine [Quinn]," Former Mayor Ed Koch said. "I would say if you have any desire to be mayor, you should run. He'll never have a better opportunity."

City Council Speaker Quinn, widely believed to be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, has not formally announced her candidacy for mayor.

Whom are you supporting for mayor? Leave your comments below...

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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