The Times and the Post Agree on Mayoral Endorsements

by Patrick Brennan

The New York Times and the New York Post concur on something for once: They’ve both endorsed city-council speaker Christine Quinn for the Demcoratic nomination for mayor of New York and former transit commissioner Joe Lhota for the Republican one. The form of their endorsements, though, does diverge rather dramatically: The Post says of the Democratic worthies, for instance, “Choosing from among them is a difficult task — not because the selection is so good, but because each comes with considerable downsides.” The Times, meanwhile, makes sure to reminds their readers that they still really, really don’t like Rudy Giuliani, if that’s somehow relevant, beginning their Lhota editorial this way: 

You might find it odd to see this page endorsing the mayoral candidacy of Joseph Lhota, a Republican who made his mark in politics as right-hand man and chief enabler to Rudolph Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani, a two-term mayor of uncommon nastiness, has seen his once-formidable reputation shrink to a pinpoint, to the things he did on and around one terrible September day more than a decade ago. But Mr. Lhota is more than the sum of his years as Mr. Giuliani’s top deputy . . .

Lhota’s competition is rather weak — the only two other Republican candidates are nonprofit founder George McDonald and grocery executive John Catsimatidis, neither of whom has experience in government — and he’ll likely win the primary easily.

Interestingly, the Times compliments Quinn for standing with Mayor Bloomberg on a number of issues, such as preserving a rainy-day fund, against the city council’s wishes. Unfortunately, she broke with Mayor Bloomberg last week on one of his more sensible policies, helping the council overrule his veto of the Community Safety Act, which comprises two bills. One is the NYPD Oversight Act, which will create an inspector general for the department on top of the existing oversight organs and the monitor which the Department of Justice will now impose as a result of the stop-question-and-frisk lawsuit. The other is the End Discriminatory Racial Profiling Act, which sounds nice enough, except that it serves to ban New York police officers from using suspects’ race to describe them. Doing so could make them guilty of “relying on actual or perceived race” when “initiating law enforcement action,” and the act also establishes a range of ways for individuals to hold the department and individual cops accountable if they violate it, which will likely have the practical effect of making cops remarkably skittish about actually doing their jobs for fear of being sued. 

So rightly, Bloomberg opposed both of these measures, and the Times’ and the Post’s pick from among the Democrats, whatever her virtues, has made it clear by supporting them that she doesn’t support his public-safety policies, which have the strong support of New Yorkers. That should provide an opening for Lhota (who did a very fine job running the MTA and understands city governance extremely well), but the Democratic primary run-off — which will probably involve Quinn and either city official Bill de Blasio, who’s extremely liberal, or former comptroller Bill Thompson, who lost to Bloomberg last time around — won’t conclude until October 1, a month before the general election. That doesn’t leave Lhota much time to make his case to a city with a six-to-one Democratic registration advantage — though we can safely assume he’ll still have the Post in his corner.