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Lazio's $15M Bottom Line

Fifteen million dollars is the magic number for Republican Rick Lazio's New York Senate campaign. That's the amount of money Lazio says he'll need to compete against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Appearing Tuesday on Don Imus' nationally syndicated morning talk show, the little-known congressman from Long Island said, ”We're going to need a lot of money ... It's a ton of dough.”

For the race against Clinton, Lazio said ”we're going to need $15 million or more.”

Through March 31, Clinton had raised more than $12 million for the Senate race. Aides to the first lady have said she plans to raise $25 million.

Although Lazio said his fund raising was going well, the only detail he provided was that his Internet campaign site had generated about $300,000 in contributions since he entered the race. There was no immediate response from the Lazio camp about how much money his campaign has raised since New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani withdrew from the race last month. Lazio had about $3.5 million in his campaign bank account when Giuliani, who has prostate cancer, dropped out.

In the Imus interview, Lazio also criticized the state election laws that Gov. George Pataki and state GOP Chairman William Powers used this year in an unsuccessful attempt to keep Sen. John McCain off the New York presidential primary ballot. Pataki and Powers were running Texas Gov. George W. Bush's New York primary campaign effort and Lazio himself was elected as a Bush delegate in that primary.

”I thought we should have allowed him on the ballot ... People need to have a reasonable shot at getting on the ballot as long as they have some support,” Lazio said. ”I think it's a wacky system. It's outdated and we need to change that.”

In fact, after it became clear that McCain was about to succeed in a court battle to get on New York's March 7 primary ballot, Pataki gave up the fight and called for changing the election law to make it easier for candidates to qualify for future presidential primaries.