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MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota Resigning To Explore NYC Mayoral Bid

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Wednesday marked Joe Lhota's last board meeting as the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He's resigning effective Dec. 31 to mull a run for mayor as a Republican.

His decision immediately shakes up the race in both parties, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported.

We'll have to wait until next month to know whether Lhota is indeed running for mayor.

"I will be exploring a potential candidacy for the Mayor of New York. This will be a life-defining decision," Lhota said.

1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reports


But if Lhota had any thoughts of a honeymoon, well, as they say in Brooklyn, fuhgettaboutit.

Lhota was asked to express his views on gay marriage, gun control and legalizing marijuana, but he stonewalled -- good practice if he runs for the top job.

His candidacy is being pushed by his former boss, Rudy Giuliani, for whom he served as first deputy mayor during 9/11.

"Could this guy be a great mayor? Yeah, he's got all the talents," Giuliani said back on Dec. 6.

Lhota, who has won praise for running the MTA and getting it up and running quickly after Hurricane Sandy, brings a business acumen like Mayor Michael Bloomberg's and he is married to one of the premier Republican fundraisers in the country.

Still, it's no guarantee that he will get the Republican nomination.

"The problem is that Joe Lhota also has to win the Republican primary. It's a crowded field with low turnout. He's not well known to an awful lot of Republicans," political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said.

Lhota would also not be the first Republican in the race. Supermarket magnate and billionaire John Catsimatides has already formed an exploratory committee and met with Republican leaders, something Lhota can't do until he is officially off the MTA board.

"We have to keep New York running in the right direction," Catsimatides said.

In an exclusive interview with CBS 2, Catsimatides said he has enough money to self-fund his campaign, just like Bloomberg, though he said he will take small contributions. However, he said he'd be a far different kind of mayor.

"Bloomberg put up a wall between people and himself. I'm not a wall person. I like to hug people and I like to be with people," Catsimatides said.

Besides Lhota and Catsimatides, those seeking the Republican nomination are former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, a Democrat, and homeless advocate George McDonald.

Meanwhile, there are still some who would like to see Police Commissioner Ray Kelly jump into the race.

On the Democratic side, the wannabes are already trying to re-position themselves and their positions if Lhota runs.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below ...

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