ALBANY - Republican Harry J. Wilson, a former hedge fund manager from Scarsdale, has decided to run for state comptroller.
Wilson, 38, picked up his first endorsements Tuesday. Six GOP county leaders, including those from Westchester and Rockland, backed his bid to unseat incumbent Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a Democrat from Great Neck.
After better-known candidates declined invitations to run, Republicans are hoping voters will be impressed by Wilson's background on Wall Street and as a member of the federal task force that bailed out automakers General Motors and Chrysler. They also need Wilson to spend some of his fortune on his campaign, given the party's meager resources.
"New York State can turn itself around if it begins making responsible decisions on spending and stops wasting taxpayers' hard-earned money," Wilson said Tuesday. "Those are decisions I will forcefully advocate as a candidate and as the next New York State comptroller."
Among those backing Wilson's candidacy are GOP leaders from Albany, Fulton, Saratoga and Montgomery counties.
On Long Island, a spokesman for the Nassau Republican Committee said chairman Joseph Mondello had met with Wilson about a week ago and "was favorably impressed but has not made a decision about an endorsement."
Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle plans to meet with Wilson next week. "We aren't ready to make an endorsement, but he sounds like a promising candidate," LaValle said.
The backing of county leaders is crucial to winning the party's nomination at the state convention later this year.
Wilson's move comes after DiNapoli secured his first major endorsement last week in Manhattan.
The powerful Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union praised DiNapoli's stewardship of the state pension plan and repeated warnings to state leaders about the budget deficit.
In accepting the union's backing, DiNapoli emphasized his middle-class life and parents' membership in unions. He worked for AT&T before serving in the Assembly for 20 years. His colleagues elected him comptroller in February 2007 after the resignation of Alan Hevesi.
"I'll be straight with New Yorkers about our state's finances and will make sure public resources are used solely for the public good," DiNapoli said. "It's your money, and it's my job to protect it."