By Nathaniel Herz
Even before superstorm Sandy, somebody was thinking about a mayoral run by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph J. Lhota.
For the last month, Lhota has been floated as a potential Republican candidate, with much of the buzz chalked up to his agency’s deft response to the storm, which made landfall on Oct. 29.
But a month and a half earlier, on Sept. 18, someone anonymously snatched four domain names — Lhota2013.com, LhotaforNY.com, LhotaforNYC.com, and JoeLhotaSucks.com — that suggest the idea of a Lhota candidacy was already percolating. (Campaigns often reserve sites with negative connotations to keep them from falling into the wrong hands.)
An MTA spokesman said Wednesday that the Authority was not commenting on any mayoral rumors, but referred a reporter to Lhota’s chief spokesman, Adam Lisberg, who could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lhota, 58, is a Republican who worked as a deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration.
While four Democrats have emerged as mayoral front-runners for the 2013 contest, Lhota’s conservative credentials and business background — he has worked as an investment banker and as a vice president for the Madison Square Garden Company —make him an attractive candidate to the city’s business community, which has been encouraging him to run.
Lhota is expected to decide on a candidacy over the next few weeks, and has even mentioned a run to the city’s current mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.
To do so, however, he would have to step down from his position as chair of the MTA.