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NYT: New York G.O.P. Lacks Big Name for 2010 Slate

December 23, 2009

It might be The New York Times (conservatives roll your eyes), but that newspaper recently put up an article about the sad but true state of GOP candidates this year. Here it is, for those that did not see it:

America’s Mayor is out. But take heart, New York Republicans — Larchmont’s mayor could get in.

It has come to this for the party of such electoral lions as Rudolph W. GiulianiGeorge E. Pataki and Alfonse M. D’Amato: a rookie Democrat, Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand — largely unknown to the public and unloved by some in her own party — faces her first election to the seat in November. But Republicans have been unable to land a marquee name to run against her.

So far, the only hopefuls to surface in opposition to Senator Gillibrand are Michael Balboni, a former state senator from Long Island; Bruce A. Blakeman, a former Nassau County legislator who ran for comptroller in 1998 but was defeated 2 to 1 by H. Carl McCall; and Elizabeth N. Feld, the mayor of the village of Larchmont (population 6,567), who was trounced in a State Senate race in 2008.

The decision by Mr. Giuliani to stay in private work, and the apparent lack of interest on the part of Mr. Pataki, leave the Republican Party in recruiting and rebuilding mode precisely when it could use a proven, popular figure to step in and take on Ms. Gillibrand, who, political analysts say, may never be this vulnerable again. Barring that, Republicans could see their ticket headed by Rick Lazio, the former four-term Long Island congressman who was thumped by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2000 Senate race and is running for governor now.

“It tells you the Republicans don’t have a bench,” said Douglas Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College. “What they have is a couple of over-the-hill, aging, former major leaguers who don’t want to go through the rigors of the game. And Lazio was a nobody when he was a somebody.”

Republican candidates for other statewide races are not exactly A-listers. The best known is John Faso, who was blown out by Eliot Spitzer in the 2006 governor’s race and is said to be thinking over a run for state comptroller. Harry J. Wilson, a wealthy hedge fund partner who retired at 36 and worked on President Obama’s automotive industry task force, and the Rockland County executive, C. Scott Vanderhoef, have also floated their names for comptroller.

Mr. Lazio is being challenged by Chris Collins, the Erie County executive. And potential candidates for attorney general include District Attorneys Daniel M. Donovan of Staten Island, Kathleen B. Hogan of Glens Falls and William J. Fitzpatrick of Syracuse, Republican operatives say.

Oddly, the paucity of high-profile contenders comes as party leaders have reason to feel sanguine about their prospects in 2010. Last month’s elections, they say, showed not merely anti-incumbent but anti-Democratic sentiment, with Republican upsets in county races in Nassau and Westchester, and big gains in county and local races in the Hudson Valley, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.

Republicans are optimistic about their chances of retaking the State Senate in 2010. But if Andrew M. Cuomo winds up winning the governor’s office in a rout, as some Republicans fear, they have defensive reasons to seek a formidable candidate to take on Ms. Gillibrand, said Kieran Mahoney, a top Republican strategist.

“In ’92, D’Amato on the ballot prevented the Clinton landslide from burying down-ballot Republicans,” he said. “A competitive race against Gillibrand this year could have the same effect, and would be particularly important in recapturing the New York State Senate.”

Party leaders stressed that they had benefited from wide-open primary races before, and say just because their candidates are little known now does not mean they should be counted out. In 1980, Mr. D’Amato leaped from town supervisor to the Senate, and in 1994, George E. Pataki jumped from the State Senate to the governor’s mansion.

“Sometimes it’s not necessarily the big name you think of right now,” said Dean G. Skelos, the State Senate minority leader. “Really, it clears the path to those out there, some who may be self-funders, some we may not have thought of yet, to say, with Rudy Giuliani out, maybe they’re going to take a shot at it.”

Ryan Moses, a former executive director of the state Republicans, agreed. “We have an opportunity here,” Mr. Moses said.

While Mr. Giuliani mentioned Mr. Pataki and Representative Peter T. King of Long Island as potential challengers to Ms. Gillibrand, those who know Mr. Pataki say the odds of his running are remote. (Efforts to reach Mr. Pataki through a spokesman on Tuesday were unsuccessful.)

Mr. King ruled out a race against Ms. Gillibrand in August, but said in an interview on Tuesday that he would give it a second thought, at the urging of party strategists. A run would mean giving up his House seat and his spot as ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, and winning would leave him facing re-election in 2012.


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So who do you think should run? Feel free to comment and let us know your thoughts!

  1. December 23, 2009 8:58 am

    I like this article. How about an article with all potential statewide and local races? This year will be a good year for Republicans and anyone running for public office, including myself, needs to network with other campaigns to ensure success.

  2. Young Republican permalink
    December 23, 2009 9:23 am

    It sucks that we won’t pick up any statewide offices next year. It sucks even more because this election is probably going to be our best shot for a long time. With an unelected, unpopular, incumbent governor, an unelected senator who thinks she represents the State of Chuck Schumer, and an unelected comptroller who can defiantly be given a run for his money, this could have been the perfect year to make some inroad on a statewide level. It was only 11 years ago when republicans held three out of five statewide elected offices, this year we should at least be able to take back two. But as republicans we have to do what we do best – always criticize, and never offer viable alternatives.

    Although this can be very demoralizing, we should remember that this is something we really have very little power over. We should continue to focus on the things we can affect, like growing the county committee, establishing a strong grassroots level republican organization in Brooklyn, getting republicans to join Community Boards, Precinct Community Councils, Community Education Councils, and other community leadership positions, starting local republican clubs in each AD, and finally getting republicans elected to the city council, the state assembly, and the senate.

  3. December 23, 2009 11:23 am

    “It sucks that we won’t pick up any statewide offices next year.”

    I don’t think you should be so negative, Young Republican. Besides, this year’s election will be less about who we are running, than WHO we are running against and WHAT we are running against – failing Democratic leadership for NY and unpopular Liberal policies.

    Blakeman appears ready to take the plunge against Gillibrand now…

    …and he should be a solid candidate all around.

    Lazio, although certainly not flashy, will be effective when running against Governor Paterson.

    Schumer is probably a lock no matter who we run against him, so as long as the Governor and US Senate race against the Freshman Democrat are covered by solid candidates, the GOP will be in solid position to win back some control over state and national affairs.

    Besides, this year is going to be all about the NY State Senate – as if we can win back a few seats, especially downstate, we can wrestle control of at least on third of the levers of government away from the reckless Democrats…

    • Tommy Nast permalink
      December 23, 2009 11:28 am

      “Besides, this year is going to be all about the NY State Senate…”

      Jay, can you name an election where it hasn’t been all about the NY State Senate?

      • December 23, 2009 11:58 am

        Yes, in 2009.

      • Tommy Nast permalink
        December 23, 2009 12:08 pm

        Yes and no. Remember the coup where the Republicans used Pedro Espada to try and regain control of the Senate, shutting down state government for a month? Remember Bloomberg’s endorsement by State Senators that used to get money from him? This year was also about the State Senate, too. If 2010 is all about the State Senate, then people like you running for Congress are going to get thrown under the bus. That’s the point I am making.

    • Young Republican permalink
      December 23, 2009 4:33 pm

      We should be able to beat Gillibrand for her senate seat, we should be able to beat DiNapoli for Comptroller, we should be able to take back the governors office, but will we? Are we going to run anybody? I agree that Lazio can win against Paterson, but how about the other offices, we may not get another opportunity like this for years.

      Yes, the Senate is very important, but let’s not forget the assembly. We are down to 40 republicans out of 150 members. It was only five years ago we had 53 republicans. If there were 53 republicans in the assembly, republicans working together with 23 moderate to conservative democrats (maybe from up-state or Long Island,) could possibly replace Sheldon Silver with a not-so radical speaker.

  4. December 23, 2009 1:17 pm

    That’s a good point.

  5. Concerned Observer permalink
    December 23, 2009 6:46 pm

    That’s why we need to work hard to pick up the 60th AD, the 49th AD, and if there’s any hope of finding decent candidates in other ADs, we should do that too.

  6. 2010 victory permalink
    December 23, 2009 8:33 pm

    We all need to help Joseph Hayon win this seat. So let’s all donate something on his website.

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