‘Underdog’ Lhota: Remember Harry Truman in ’48!

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – Even though his campaign banner, behind the mayoral-looking podium, was the smallest PIX 11 had ever seen at an Election Night party, Joe Lhota–the Republican candidate for New York City Mayor–was making big predictions of an upset. Even though the recent polls showed him behind by as much as 40 points.

“Everything I’ve done, I’ve wanted to do,” Lhota told reporters, who asked if he would have run his campaign any differently. “I’m very optimistic about tonight.”  Lhota had just finished voting with his wife and daughter at Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights.

Lhota went so far as to invoke the memory of the 1948 presidential election, when the pundits said Thomas Dewey would beat Harry Truman. Truman pulled off a famous upset.

Lhota said early Tuesday he was writing an acceptance speech.

The 59-year old Bronx native–a Harvard business grad who worked on Wall Street, then as deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani, and more recently, as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, had a great résumé going into the general election–but a tough time seeing his message resonate with New Yorkers.

Lhota blamed some of his difficulties on “voter fatigue” with twelve years of Mayor Bloomberg, who was first elected running as a Republican.

Lhota had said he would continue one of Bloomberg’s controversial, crime-fighting strategies: stop and frisk. DeBlasio flew to the front of the pack in the Democratic primary race, after his teen son made a campaign ad against the practice.

Lhota criticized DeBlasio for running an emotional campaign that played on a “tale of two cities” where only the wealthy have been thriving.

Lhota has working-class roots: his father was a New York City police officer. One grandfather was a firefighter and the other a New York City cab driver.  Yet de Blasio tried to portray the moderate Republican as a Tea Party supporter, after Lhota had a meeting with Tea Party members on Staten Island.

Though Lhota could sometimes appear stiff on camera, he did “bust a move” with a woman in Harlem who asked him to dance. And he playfully flashed his paper ballot at reporters, as he waited to get his vote scanned. Tuesday night, he was expected at the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel to wait for the final vote results.