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Sources: MTA Chairman Joe Lhota To Run For New York City Mayor

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- CBS 2 has learned Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota will resign his post and run for mayor of New York City in 2013.

Highly placed sources in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration and the MTA board told CBS 2's Dick Brennan that Lhota will step down Friday and is expected to join the mayoral race for the Republican nomination.

He must resign from the MTA because city law prohibits him from running for mayor while holding the position of chairman at the transit agency. Lhota will preside over the agency's meeting Wednesday, when it is expected to approve a major fare hike, and will resign two days later, Brennan reported.

It's widely believed his entry will almost certainly jolt the mayoral race.

Lhota, who took over as the head of the MTA earlier this year, had been mulling a run for some time, but it appears his stock soared with the public due to his handling of Hurricane Sandy, pushing him to throw his hat in the ring.

It looks like Lhota now has every intention of going from making the trains run on time to keeping the city on the right track.

"He'd be exactly what New York City needs," former mayor Rudy Giuliani told CBS 2's Marcia Kramer on Dec. 6.

It was high praise from the man once dubbed "America's Mayor." Giuliani told Kramer he would love to see Lhota succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Could this guy be a great mayor? Yeah, absolutely. He's got all the talents," Giuliani said.

Lhota was at Giuliani's side after 9/11 as first deputy mayor.

"He was with me for 40 straight days, 24 hours a day. So I saw him under pressure. He handled September 11th heroically, so it wasn't a big surprise to me to see how well he handled Sandy with the MTA," Giuliani said.

Lhota has been widely applauded for restoring the subway system after Hurricane Sandy, but he also has extensive experience in business, banking and city government. He is also the son of an NYPD lieutenant.

As for the Democrats, the news of Lhota's candidacy likely won't please City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who enjoyed a commanding lead among likely candidates in recent polls. However, Lhota will have his work cut out for him. In the city, Democrats have a 6-1 edge over Republicans in registration, and he will likely face a primary on the Republican side, CBS 2's Brennan reported.

Others mulling a run for the Republican nod are former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., supermarket magnate John Catsimatides, publisher Tom Allon and homeless advocate George McDonald.

It's not clear who would succeed Lhota as interim MTA chief. New York City Transit Authority President Thomas Prendergast has in the past taken the reins when Lhota has been out of town, but ultimately the decision will fall to Gov. Cuomo to appoint a replacement.

What do you think of Joe Lhota as a candidate? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below ...

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