John Catsimatidis Hits Joe Lhota With Attack Ads

“$15 to cross a bridge? What was Joe Lhota thinking?” Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter Sign Up Thank you

A scene from one of the two ads.
A scene from one of the two ads.

“$15 to cross a bridge? What was Joe Lhota thinking?”

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a rel="noreferrer" href="">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

So asks an incredulous narrator in one of two new commercials launched by Republican mayoral hopeful John Catsimatidis.

In a first, the ads take direct jabs at Mr. Catsimatidis’s GOP rival Joe Lhota; one even displays “OUTRAGED” on the screen while hitting him for raising tolls as MTA chairman.

The more negative ad of the two launches a full barrage against Mr. Lhota, further blasting him for once calling Port Authority officers “mall cops”–Mr. Catsimatidis “considers them heroes,” in case viewers were curious–and for being a “bureaucrat.” “While Catsimatidis created thousands of jobs,” it concludes. “Joe Lhota created one–for himself. A bureaucrat versus a businessman, John Catsimatidis for mayor.”

Mr. Lhota has apologized for the “mall cop” remark and has repeatedly argued that, due to structural financing issues, he had no choice but to raise bridge tolls as MTA chairman.

Previously, Mr. Catsimatidis, a billionaire businessman who is self-financing his campaign, suggested he’d only start running negative ads if Mr. Lhota took the first swing.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Lhota did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update (4:56 p.m.):

Mr. Lhota’s campaign responded to the ads with a sharply-worded note to supporters penned by Mr. Lhota’s wife, Tamra.

“Today, John Catsimatidis began airing negative commercials against Joe – advertisements that are misleading, false and desperate,” she said in the letter, which quickly pivoted to a fund-raising plea.

“As you know, Mr. Catsimatidis has great wealth and unlimited financial resources. If New Yorkers are going to have a real choice at the ballot box in November, it will be because of your help and support for Joe at this crucial moment,” she wrote. “Please take a moment today to go online (click here) and make the most generous contribution you can.  Your contribution, today, will give Joe the financial resources he needs to combat these lies and unfair distortions of his record.”

She also sounded an alarmist tone, arguing the decision voters make on Sept. 10 “will affect the trajectory of the City for decades to come. The opportunity for a bright and secure future for our beloved City,” she said, “rests in your hands today.”

Watch both spots below:

John Catsimatidis Hits Joe Lhota With Attack Ads