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CHN: Former Bush Treasury Official Eyeing Self-Financed GOP Run For Governor

November 24, 2009

If you were wondering who’s going to be the GOP’s candidate for governor, City Hall News has this bit of intriguing information:

Emil Henry, Jr., a former assistant Treasury secretary under George W. Bush and executive at Lehman Brothers, has been in discussions with state Republican officials about the possibility of running for governor next year, according to people with knowledge of the conversations.

Ed Cox, the state Republican chairman, has courted Henry intensively in recent weeks, hoping to recruit a wealthy and well-connected candidate who could in part self-finance a campaign against Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who Republican officials expect will be the Democratic nominee next year. Cuomo is widely believed to be plotting a primary challenge to Gov. David Paterson, and polls have shown that he would handily defeat any of the potential Republican candidates.

State Republicans say that while the talks have been preliminary, Henry has expressed quiet interest in exploring a potential gubernatorial bid. Little-known in state Republican circles, his entry into the race would certainly upend the looming 2010 elections, and prove a boon to cash-strapped Republicans who have so far struggled to attract credible candidates for statewide office.

“He’s talking to Ed Cox. He’s talking to the state people,” said a Republican operative with knowledge of the talks, who was not authorized to disclose details of private conversations.

The operative added that Henry’s wealth has proven a significant draw.

“The advantage of Emil is that he’s a self-funder,” the operative said. “Cox loves that idea.”

Henry’s interest in the race was in part what prompted Cox to aggressively lobby former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to consider running for U.S. Senate rather than governor, according to people familiar with Cox’s thinking. After assuming the post of state chair in September, Cox calculated that the party would be better off with a self-financing candidate such as Henry as a gubernatorial candidate, and set about prodding Giuliani into the race against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand instead.

A spokesperson for Cox declined to comment. Henry, now the head of New York-based private equity firm Tiger Infrastructure Partners, did not return phone calls and email messages seeking comment.

State Republican operatives close to Cox have privately suggested for several weeks that the party would benefit from recruiting a wealthy candidate who could finance his own campaign, akin to outgoing New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, who spent vast amounts of his personal fortune on a successful 2005 campaign, but was defeated in his re-election bid this year.

A person who has spoken with Henry estimated that he would be able to contribute as much as half the cost of a gubernatorial campaign from his personal fortune (observers estimate that a campaign would cost as much as $20 million), and would be able to raise the rest with the help of high-level connections on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C.

Republicans close to Henry and Cox cautioned that the one-time Hank Paulson deputy may still opt not to wage what would likely be an expensive and grueling campaign against Cuomo if the attorney general does in fact win the Democratic nomination. Cuomo is said to have already amassed a war chest of more than $16 million for a potential gubernatorial campaign.

Despite Henry’s obvious financial advantage, Republican officials acknowledged that there may be much in his past as an investment manager and Treasury official that would invite Democratic attacks. As the assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions, for example, Henry oversaw many of the big-name Wall Street companies that engaged in reckless speculation and have since become synonymous with the financial collapse. One of his tasks at Treasury was to monitor the growth of hedge funds and so-called “derivative products,” which have largely been blamed for helping spark the downfall of the financial sector and, in turn, the national economy.

But his work did earn him at least one fan: when Henry left the Treasury department in 2007 after two years on the job, Paulson issued a statement thanking him for “reducing the regulatory burden on our nation’s financial institutions, and spearheading our efforts for preparation in the event of a financial crisis.”

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See the rest of the story here.

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2 Comments
  1. Young Republican permalink
    November 24, 2009 5:39 pm

    Hope he isn’t the Republican version of Jon Corzine.

  2. Wag-the-Dog permalink
    November 25, 2009 9:02 am

    —from the administration that put the nation into bankruptcy…

    —from a bankrupt financial house (for whom he could’t arrange a bailout, even though he clearly is an “insider”)…

    —to gubernatorial candidate in a soon to be bankrupt state…

    Sounds like the perfect man for the job!

    But wait a minute, what if Mike Long decides to Palinize him like he did to Dede Scackalackadoozer????

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