Where's Rudy?

Despite polls showing him leading in a potential race for U.S Senate from New York, and competitive in a race for governor, former Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani remains mum on his plans for the 2010 elections.  Giuliani’s silence has led to rampant speculation and conflicting reports in the press about whether he will be a candidate for either office.

The New York Times kicked off the recent media feeding frenzy over Giuliani’s plans — or lack thereof — two weeks ago, reporting that Giuliani was telling close associates he would forego a run for governor, avoiding a likely clash with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.  Giuliani’s camp pushed back hard against the Times report, calling it “premature and flat-out wrong.”

“He has not made up his mind. He will make up his mind shortly, and any story that says anything other that that is false,” said Giuliani aide Jake Mendes.

In the governor’s race, polls of a potential Giuliani-Cuomo contest show the Attorney General beating Giuliani by an average of about twelve points.  However, two recent polls from Marist College and Siena University show the deficit for the mayor to be more manageable at ten and seven points respectively.

The Times report was followed quickly by news that Giuliani was instead considering a Senate run against incumbent Democrat Kristen Gillibrand.  Gillibrand was appointed by unpopular New York Governor David Paterson to fill the remainder of Hillary Clinton’s term after a drawn out process that included a public campaign for the post by Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.  Paterson’s handling of the Senate vacancy has played a large role in his sinking approval ratings.

Gillibrand, a moderate Democrat whose appointment was not warmly received by many New York liberals, is considered vulnerable in 2010.  Polls of a prospective Giuliani-Gillibrand race show the mayor holding an average seven-point lead, with some polls showing him besting the Senator by as much as seventeen points.

But the Giuliani camp has publicly denied reports that he will challenge Gillibrand, too.  Asked about the reports, Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella indicated that Giuliani had not reached a decision on the race.

“Rudy has a history of making up his own mind and has no problem speaking it.  When Mayor Giuliani makes a decision about serving in public office, he will inform New Yorkers on his own,” Comella told New York’s Daily News.

As speculation swirls, however, Giuliani seems in no hurry to clear up the record. Multiple requests by HUMAN EVENTS to interview Giuliani about his 2010 plans went unanswered.

Just days before the Times story, Giuliani appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, telling his host that he “hadn’t really focused” on plans for 2010 yet, but promised that he would make a decision “soon.”  New York Republicans have been waiting for Giuliani to announce his plans since the summer, and the delay is causing concern that the party’s chances of taking either the governor’s mansion of the Senate seat in deep blue New York will be scuttled.

As far back as September, county GOP chairmen were publicly expressing their frustration with Giuliani’s seeming inability to make up his mind.  Rockland County GOP Chairman Vincent Reda was the most vocal, preemptively implicating Giuliani in a loss in the governor’s race.  

“When are we going to get started with our governor’s race?  Cuomo’s sitting on $10 million, Paterson’s got $5 million.  We’ve got squat,” Reda lamented.  “We need time to raise the bucks.  [Giuliani’s] stretching and waiting is killing us.”

More than two months have passed since Reda spoke those words, and frustration with Giuliani in Republican circles can only have grown.  But if that is true, for now the party is keeping its worries to itself.

While the state party is in a waiting mode, the Conservative Party, flexing its muscles in the wake of the valiant effort of its standard-bearer Doug Hoffman in the 23rd Congressional district race, has begun the process of endorsing nominees in both the governor’s and Senate races.  In New York’s “fusion” ticket system, securing the nomination – and the ballot line – of one of the state’s many third parties can be crucial to winning.

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long has been meeting with potential candidates to face Gillibrand, notably not meeting with Giuliani.  And Rick Lazio, the only declared Republican in the governor’s race, recently picked up the endorsement of Long’s brother, Tom Long, the Chairman of the Queens County Conservative Party.  In thinly veiled swipes at Giuliani, both Longs cited the need for the party to get behind a candidate early in order to maximize the chance of defeating the Democrats in one or both races.

While Giuliani takes his time making a decision on a race, the decision may be being made for him.