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Former MTA Head Files Papers For Mayoral Run

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Former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joe Lhota filed papers Thursday morning that officially marked his intent to become the city's next mayor.

The Republican is the latest candidate to jump into the already crowded field and his entrance has been expected for some time.

He filed the necessary paperwork Thursday morning with the state and city Board Of Elections and the city's Campaign Finance Board, just as he said he would do two days before at a construction industry lunch in Midtown.

Following this step, Lhota can now start raising and spending money on a campaign he hopes will lead him to City Hall.

Lhota is running for mayor in a city where Democrats outnumber members of his party by more than six to one. In addition, unlike Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Lhota is not a billionaire, so funding his own campaign is not an option.

In an interview Thursday afternoon, Lhota told NY1 that those challenges are not insurmountable.

Many of his opponents have a significant head start when it comes to fundraising, but that does not bother Lhota. He said he will participate in the city's campaign finance program and raise the money he needs to mount a campaign.

"I will absolutely catch up to them and I will absolutely have enough to run for mayor," Lhota said.

He also said his party affiliation won't be a problem.

"New Yorkers don't vote for mayor based on their political label," Lhota said. "They vote for mayor based on the person. Who are they, what are they going to do for the city, how are they going to help the city of New York, how are they going to help that individual and that family continue to live and thrive in the city of New York. And that's what this race is going to be about."

Lhota spent a little more than a year as the head of the MTA. His longest stint in government was working at City Hall for former mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Giuliani has been promoting Lhota's candidacy these past few weeks, and Lhota said to expect to see his former boss helping the campaign in parts of Queens and on Staten Island.

Giuliani's critics said he was a divisive leader at times, particularly because he rarely met with African-American elected leaders.

Lhota did not criticize the former mayor Thursday but did make it clear he has a different style.

"The thing that was important about Joe Lhota when he worked in City Hall is Joe Lhota talked to everybody," Lhota said. "And I will do the same thing when I run for mayor. I will talk to everybody. We may not necessarily agree, but that doesn't mean we can't have an open and civil dialogue. And that's going to be at the core of, that's at the core of who I am, and it's going to be at the core of the campaign."

Lhota also launched a website Thursday morning. In it, he calls himself a "Mayor for All of New York." He says he is running because he loves the city but the things he loves about it are "fragile and must be protected."

Lhota may be running as a Republican, but his name could appear on a third party ballot line as well. He says he is talking to other parties about an endorsement, and he is considering creating a new party line to run on himself.

"I will seek out a third party line and, if necessary, go out and create a third party line," Lhota said.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Lhota leading the pack of possible Republican candidates for mayor. But when he is matched up against Democrats who are running, or are expected to run for City Hall, he fares much more poorly.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio all beat him in that poll by at least a 3-to-1 margin.

Lhota said he expects to spend the next two to three months ramping up his fundraising operation as well as building his campaign staff and trying to get his message out to the public.

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