Lhota Says He’ll Counter de Blasio’s ‘Army’ With His Own ‘Marine Corps’

Joe Lhota campaigning on the Upper East Side.

Joe Lhota campaigning on the Upper East Side.

With less than 24 hours to go before voters begin to cast their ballots, Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota remains optimistic, despite badly trailing in the polls.

Campaigning on the Upper East Side this morning, Mr. Lhota dismissed the numbers and insisted that he was in a position to win.

“I am feeling very optimistic,” Mr. Lhota told reporters. “I don’t believe the polls. There’s only one that counts. That’s the one tomorrow, when all the people go to vote.”

Mr. Lhota’s rival, Democrat Bill de Blasio, has been boasting about an “army” of volunteers he says will fan across the city tomorrow to get out the vote. But Mr. Lhota said he had an even better weapon.

“I wouldn’t describe mine as an army. It’s more like the Marine Corps,” he said. “They will do what they need to do. They will fan out in all five boroughs. They’re going to be located everywhere.” In addition to the get-out-the vote operations, he said his team is also preparing a “fleet of lawyers prepared for any problems that we have at the polling places.”

“It will be an all-out effort,” he said.

Overall, the reception was largely positive as Mr. Lhota–facing the cold without a jacket–kicked off the day campaigning outside the Lexington Avenue-77th Street subway station, greeting voters in the frosty air.

“Good luck, Joe. Get ‘em,” they told him. “Get’ em tomorrow,” “I’m rootin’ for you, Joe.”

“Hey Joe, you gotta win, you gotta win! Please! Save us!” urged Steve Wolfe, an executive search specialist who has lived in the neighborhood for the past eight years.

“Why? Real simple: The health of this city is at stake,” Mr. Wolfe told Politicker. “I think that our financial circumstance are gonna be terribly diminished with the other guy, ‘de Blah-so.’ He has a different vision for the city than I think I do.” Mr. Wolfe went on to call the recent poll numbers “crazy,” and blamed the huge divide on the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in the city by a margin of 6-1.

One reporter, sounding surprised, noted that people seemed to like Mr. Lhota in the neighborhood.

“People like me everywhere!” answered Mr. Lhota, who was in a cheery mood.

Others were less optimistic, however. “You better work harder. de Blasio’s gonna win,” one woman chided.

And one man took things a step further. “Good luck! Bill de Blasio’s a war criminal!” shouted one man, promoting a bemused Mr. Lhota to place his hand on his forehead and shake his head. “What war?” he asked. “One thing I love about New Yorkers: You hear everything.”

Joe Lhota answering questions from the press.

Joe Lhota answering questions from the press.

Later he defended Mr. de Blasio against the “war criminal” charge. “We’re New Yorkers. We have rights to our opinions,” he said, adding: “Quite honestly, the war criminal one was not correct.”

The visit ended–as usual–with a stop at a local bakery market, where Mr. Lhota poured himself a steaming cup of coffee and picked some breakfast. He passed on a selection of mini-cupcakes, declaring it “too early” in the day for the treats, and instead ordered a mini BLT slider with applewood smoked bacon on a brioche bun.

“Bacon is a vegetable. Did you now that?” he asked Politicker, before examining his meal. “Look at that.”