Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, viewed by many New York Republicans as a savior for the struggling party, said Tuesday he wouldn't run for political office in 2010, choosing to concentrate on his lucrative law and consulting businesses.
Giuliani, whose most recent foray into politics ended with a stinging loss to John McCain in the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, told WABC-TV Tuesday that he will not commit to another high-profile run for office.
"None of it has to do with not wanting to do it. I would have loved to have run for either governor or the Senate," Giuliani told the New York City television station outside his Manhattan home. "It's a great honor. I love public service. It just happens to be that right now both of these enterprises that I'm in, Bracewell & Giuliani and Giuliani Partners, are at a critical point. And I really want to devote myself to it."
His announcement has implications on two big races - the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and Democratic Gov. David Paterson's big for another term.
The former mayor spoke before he was set to endorse fellow Republican Rick Lazio in the governor's race. Giuliani scheduled an afternoon news conference to discuss his support for Lazio, who was trounced by Hillary Rodham Clinton for Senate in 2000.
Giuliani, who withdrew from the 2000 Senate race against Clinton for health and personal reasons, says Republicans still have plenty of potential candidates to take on Gillibrand. They include ex-Gov. George Pataki and U.S. Rep. Pete King.
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 notes 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.
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.
Molinari, however, also said he was disappointed by Giuliani's decision to endorse Lazio now, when other candidates, including Collins, would be stronger.
King, a Long Island Republican, 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.