Overcast 57° Good Morning
Overcast 57° Good Morning
NewsNew York

The Cover Story: Giuliani looking to make a comeback?



By Jason Fink


Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani may now have his sights set on Albany and is also not discounting a second shot at the White House.

With the state Republican party badly wounded following this month’s Democratic landslide, the hard-charging former two-term mayor is emerging as the favorite to lead the GOP back to power as a candidate for governor in 2010.

“He’s an impact player, he’s a game changer,” said Assemb. James Tedisco (R-Schenectady), the minority leader. “He could put the Republicans back on the map.”

Asked about the possibility of a gubernatorial run following a speech in Dubai, Giuliani left the door open.

“I don’t know if I’d be interested in it, but I’ll think about it when the right time comes along,” he said.

“No one knows whether you’ll do something again until you come to the point of: ‘Is it possible to do it again? Would you have a chance of winning?’” he said of a second White House bid.

Even if he decides to return to public service, there are doubts as to whether Giuliani could translate his strength as a tough law-and-order mayor into votes when Americans are now more concerned about the economy and jobs than about crime and terrorism.

“It’s very clear after the last election that it’s the economy. He’s going to have to focus on that,” said John Friscia, chairman of the Staten Island Republican Party.And at a time when “change” and “unity” are the political buzzwords of the day, Giuliani’s reputation for divisiveness could hurt him as well.

“Rudy’s problem is he doesn’t like people,” said former Mayor Ed Koch, who added that he will support Gov. David Paterson for re-election.

“He divided the city when he was mayor,” said Angela Darkins of Queens. “He got all the glory for 9/11, but he was just doing his job. The whole thing of using terrorism as propaganda is horrible."

Riding a surge of popularity following the 9/11 attacks, Giuliani vaulted to the front of the pack of Republican presidential candidates last year before stumbling in the Florida primary, where he had pinned virtually all his hopes.

“His presidential primary campaign came as close as you can come to an unmitigated disaster,” said Douglas Muzzio, a professor at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs. “He became a strident pit bull against the Democratic candidate and that will come back to haunt him.”

Despite his past missteps, even Giuliani’s critics agree he is still a force to contend with should he run for governor.

“Without question he is the most formidable Republican candidate,” Koch said.

Howard Singleton, 56, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, credits Giuliani with “cleaning the city up.”

“He’s done a good job in New York City, so I’d vote for him,” Singleton said.

Amanda Magnus and the Associated Press contributed to this report

More news