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Rudy Giuliani says he’s not running, endorses Rick Lazio

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will not attempt a run for a seat in the Senate in 2010, he announced Tuesday. Photo Credit: AP File, 2007

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, viewed by many New York Republicans as a savior for the struggling party, said Tuesday that he won’t run for political office next year and instead would concentrate on his lucrative law and consulting businesses.

“We have some pretty significant commitments next year that will really make it impossible for me to run full-time for office,” Giuliani said Tuesday at a news conference to endorse ex-congressman Rick Lazio for governor.

Giuliani said he thought about running for governor against Democratic Gov. David Paterson and in the U.S. Senate race next year against freshman Kirsten Gillibrand.

“At different times, I thought I might do it,” he said, but “it just isn’t the right time.”

>> PHOTOS: Rudy Giuliani through the years

Giuliani, whose most recent foray into politics ended with a stinging loss to John McCain in the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, said there are strong candidates in the party for both races, “and I want to start out by endorsing one, Rick Lazio for governor.”

He said ex-Gov. George Pataki and U.S. Rep. Pete King could be strong GOP candidates for Senate.

Giuliani supported Lazio, who replaced him on the ticket in the 2000 Senate race and was trounced by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Giuliani withdrew from that race after getting prostate cancer and suffering a public breakup of his marriage.

Paterson appointed Gillibrand earlier this year to take over for Clinton after the former first lady became secretary of state. The 2010 election will decide who would serve out the balance of the term, through 2012.

Potential Republican candidates for Senate had been looking for word on Giuliani’s plans before proceeding with theirs. But Lee Miringoff of the Marist College poll noted time is growing short to raise money and a candidate’s statewide stature.

“This is the time to make your intentions known, regardless of the nuance of what Rudy may or may not say about it,” Miringoff said Tuesday.

Miringoff said Republicans hoping to win any office in a state dominated by Democratic voters need to establish name recognition and raise millions of dollars during what could potentially be a big year for Republicans.

The off-year elections in November toppled many Democrats and polls show flagging support for President Barack Obama and many other Democrats. Paterson is seeking election and his polls are rising, but from low levels. Also, Democrats control state government, but hard fiscal times such as these often hurt incumbents.

“It might look like a good Republican year, despite this being a very blue state,” Miringoff said. “But they have to field a strong team and they aren’t there yet.”

Besides Lazio, Erie County Executive Chris Collins, a Republican former businessman and proven fundraiser, also is exploring a bid for governor.

Guy Molinari, former Staten Island borough president, former congressman and a leader in GOP politics statewide, said before the announcement that he would be disappointed if Giuliani decided against running.

“We are in critical times right now and we need him badly, but he has to make a personal decision,” Molinari said.

King, a Long Island Republican, praised Lazio as thoughtful and hardworking, but said he thought Giuliani was the GOP’s strongest candidate against Paterson.

“He had 100 percent name recognition and he’s a leader at a time when people are really questioning Democrats,” King said. “Rudy would be best.”

Giuliani’s consulting business, Giuliani Partners, is flourishing. This month it landed a contract with Rio de Janeiro to help make the city safer before it is the site of the 2016 Olympics. The mayor credited by many for turning around New York City toured a violence-plagued slum in Rio.

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