Joe Lhota may be a Republican seeking his party’s nomination for mayor of New York City. That doesn’t mean he’s picking Brooks Brothers over Costco for the campaign trail.
Lhota, 58, who ran the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo before resigning to run for mayor, was observed buying three of the non-iron, cotton, button-down white dress shirts at $17.99 each at a Brooklyn outpost of the big box retailer over the weekend.
The Brooks Brothers model fetches about $88.
Lhota’s one-time boss, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, considered Brooks Brothers “part of the uniform” he needed to “re-establish my Republican credentials” for his own victorious 1993 mayoral campaign.
Lhota said he was stuck in Saturday night traffic on his way home to Brooklyn after campaigning on Staten Island when he spied his favorite Costco looming ahead on the highway. He pulled into the parking lot, he said, for a five-minute “surgical strike” on the men’s dress shirt bins upstairs.
“I go through two shirts a day and in summer I’ll be going through three or more, so this was a good time to stock up,” said Lhota, who faces billionaire supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis and homeless advocate George McDonald in a Sept. 10 primary.
As he waited to pay, a woman recognized him and asked, “Hey, aren’t you running for office or something?”
Lhota, collecting 3,750 signatures across the city’s five boroughs to qualify for a ballot position, whipped a petition out of his pocket “but it turned out she wasn’t a Republican,” he said. That was the extent of his electioneering, he said.
“When I’m waiting on line to pay, I don’t ask,” he said.
Lhota isn’t a spendthrift on every front. He also picked up a jumbo can of creamed spinach made by Peter Luger, the famous Brooklyn steakhouse where a dinner can easily exceed $100 per person.
“I love their creamed spinach,” Lhota said. “I love their steak sauce. I love Peter Luger.”
Dan Kruger contributed reporting.