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At the urging of the state Republican chairman, one of the city’s most influential ministers is weighing whether to jump into the already crowded race for mayor, the Daily News has learned.

The Rev. A.R. Bernard, pastor of the Christian Cultural Center, a Brooklyn megachurch with 35,000 members, acknowledged that he has been talking with political leaders and elected officials about a possible candidacy.

“I’m not driven by political ambitions. It would be motivated by my love and concern for this city. I have 35,000 members who will be impacted by whatever happens,” he told the News.

Bernard said he was “surprised” when state GOP boss Ed Cox approached him about running but that he has given the idea “deep consideration” for a month.

His candidacy could throw a wrench into the mayoral aspirations of Joe Lhota, who stepped down as MTA chief to ponder a run. Lhota is a former deputy mayor to Rudy Giuliani, who’s been a big cheerleader for Lhota’s likely candidacy.

Cox and Giuliani have a tangled history — the ex-mayor backed a rival when Cox was seeking the state GOP chairmanship — but Cox says that’s old news and has nothing to do with his encouraging Bernard to run.

Cox said Lhota is qualified to be mayor, but in an interview with the News, the state Republican boss could not contain his enthusiasm for Bernard.

“What a guy! Isn’t he something?” Cox said. “He’s a terrific preacher, and very down to earth, a success as a businessman… and look what he’s done also for his community with the C.C.C. Quite extraordinary.”

A Bernard candidacy also could complicate family matters for the state Republican boss. Cox’s son is married to the daughter of another potential Republican candidate, billionaire John Catsimatidis.

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