SOHO POLITICS: “And Now For Something Completely Different”

Downtown is Democratic. And, SoHo has nearly always been a Democratic Arts Village. From guerilla art to condo decorations, from Frosty Myers to Bob Bolles, SoHo has nearly always followed the left of center, piggy-backing on its more liberal and progressive neighbor, Greenwich Village.

In the last election, with the help of Speaker Quinn and a number of City Council members, including Alan Gerson whose district was SoHo, Mr. Bloomberg managed to purchase the Mayoral election. He spent $120 million, that we know about. But, for what it is really worth, he took it away from Bill Thompson. Thompson’s supporters thought it was a lost cause—so it was.

Bloomberg was a Republican, and Independent, and a Democrat. What followed was an additional four years of forays into fiats about less salt, smaller drink containers, bike path and rack incursions dictating policy to SoHo residents, and issue press releases aimed at garnering the Presidency. Whew! God help us.

In the current election cycle, since Bloomberg is finally not running again, it has been presumed that one of seven Democratic candidates will finally inhabit Gracie Mansion. O.K.

But, what if?

What if Downtown . . . What if SoHo . . . What if the Democrats . . . decided that neither Weiner, Quinn, Thompson, DeBlasio, ALbanese, Liu, or Salgado, were who they wanted? Good money seems to say that the runoff will likely be between Weiner and Thompson. Despite Quinn’s public confessions and Liu’s Fed problems.

But, what would the alternative be to such a candidate, emanating from THAT contest?

A Republican? OMG! (Yes, that’s dated.)

Among the choices, should we be forced to recognize that life does really exist out there among Republicans—and, that some of them live and work among us in peace and understanding— is a man named Joseph Lhota.


Fine, so he was Deputy Mayor under Rudolf Giuliani. And, he is still close to our former Mayor. But, you know what, Giuliani didn’t try to tell us what to eat. The worst thing about him that is still remembered in SoHo was an ongoing fight with Robert Lederman, a street artist who was arrested multiple times for displaying his work on West Broadway. Come to think about it, Lederman got a good payout in court on that and there are those who look upon that police action wistfully.

Giuliani was a prosecutor and then a Mayor and more than a few voters would have been very happy having him back after the 12 year ride with the Harvard boys who work up each morning trying to figure out what they should tell us to do next. Rudy was a mensch by comparison.

But, Lhota is the question mark. Not that big a question mark, though. As former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a Deputy Mayor he had a lot of experience. He can claim, as the New York Times describes “to have run a bureaucracy as big and messy as New York City’s, a rarity in this years field.”

He is also likely to be able to count on the Staten Island vote, a stronghold of Republican and firefighter and police families. His efforts in closing the Fresh Kill landfill will assure that. The Manhattan supporters will likely point to his role in bringing down the crime rate that Giuliani managed to engineer. His role in returning the subways to service after Hurricane Sandy was also a medal on his chest.

The fact that he is reported to have called Michael Bloomberg an idiot—overheard by a reporter—shouldn’t be held against him either. He and Giuliani DO have personality.

So, among the Republican candidates, Catsimatidis, McDonald, (Carrion is Independent), Lhota stands out as well-positioned.

The question is, facing a pack of Democrats who are about to start attacking one another for the runoff, does Lhota have more of what we in Manhattan, and in SoHo—want and need?

As Monty Python’s John Cleese used to say, “And, now for something completely different.”

Stay tuned.


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