ALBANY -- Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy won't seek re-election, citing in a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo constant back trouble and a hectic travel schedule as the main reasons for his departure.
Duffy's exit is no surprise, having been expected for months.
Among those mentioned as a possible running mate for Cuomo, a Democrat, are Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Assemb. Joseph Morelle (D-Rochester), Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, former Buffalo-area Rep. Kathy Hochul and former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, who now works for Cuomo as head of the Environmental Facilities Corp.
Cuomo's decision on a running mate likely will be made before Democrats hold their nominating convention, scheduled for May 21-22 at the Huntington Hilton.
Duffy, in a letter the administration released Thursday, told Cuomo that he wants to return to the Rochester area -- he served as the city's mayor and, before that, police chief. He called it a "life decision" rather than a political one. He will serve out the rest of his term, which ends Dec. 31.
"While the consistent travel is vitally important to this position, the thousands of miles per week in the car have resulted in the residual effects of constant back and leg pain," wrote Duffy, 59. "While I do not like to offer excuses for anything, I would be disingenuous if I did not state that the pain of travel has increased to the point that I cannot commit to a second term."
He added: "I have reached a point in my life where I am choosing not to be constantly traveling from my home and family. I am a lifelong Rochester resident, and the Finger Lakes region is where I wish to spend the rest of my life."
Last year, Duffy sought a job with the Rochester Business Alliance but pulled back after it became public.
Cuomo issued a statement praising Duffy. "I have said repeatedly that asking Bob to be New York's lieutenant governor was the first and best decision I made since running for governor, and that statement remains true today," Cuomo said. "I am deeply grateful for his service and friendship and I look forward to working together in the years ahead."
Analysts' opinions on what Cuomo wants in a running mate have ranged from an upstate resident to a member of a minority group to a female to a suburbanite -- the latter to help counteract Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino of Westchester County.
"I think he needs someone from the suburbs," said George Arzt, a political consultant. "Obviously, having his convention in Suffolk means Bellone is an opportune candidate."