Mort Zuckerman Won't Run, Damnit! Has No Time For Us

Alas, it was not Charlie Rangel or David Paterson saying goodbye last night, but Mort Zuckerman, who had barely even said hello.

There was a brief shining moment when it looked like Zuckerman, publisher of the Daily News and real estate mogul extraordinaire, would run against Kirsten Gillibrand for the U.S. Senate. The instant this news hit, several score of Zuckerman's News employees -- current and former -- volunteered to cover his race. "Count me in!" bellowed a typical e-mail from an ex-Newser who goes under the handle "Tab Lloyd."

Zuckerman sent his regrets via an un-bylined article that went up on the News' own website last night. He also granted a brief interview to the Times. "I was encouraged by many major political figures in New York to look closely at running for Senate," Zuckerman told his anonymous employee. "However, at this time, it is very difficult to see how I can devote the necessary time to either a campaign, or to working in Washington, if I were to win."

Not that he thought victory was a long shot. He told the Times' Michael Barbaro that he would have been a shoe-in. "I really thought this was something I could have won, without question," he said.

The News' "No Byline Please!" reporter added a personal note as well: "Mr. Zuckerman pointed out that he has a young family, which is the most important focus in his life."

As well they should be, whoever they are.

The time factor is a bit of a puzzler, however. Zuckerman said that the recent death of his longtime partner, Edward Linde, had added to his responsibilities at Boston Properties, their huge real estate firm. Linde, however, died in January, weeks before Zuckerman started pumping GOP leaders for their support and telling people he was eager to make the race.

Whatever his real reasons, he has robbed us of what might have been one of the greatest political campaigns since Abe Hirschfeld, another real estate billionaire-slash-newspaper publisher, stopped running for office due to death.

Sigh. What we would have given to see Mort Zuckerman wooing coffee shop diners in Ozone Park, Rochester, and Plattsburgh. And how are we going to break the news to Tab Lloyd?

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