State parties move closer to settling on Cuomo and Lazio for Governor

Both the announced candidacy of Republican Rick Lazio and the expected candidacy of Democrat Andrew Cuomo for Governor of New York State got a boost this weekend when influential county chairs of their respective parties fell in behind them.

Lazio, whose only Republican opponent, Erie County Executive Chris Collins, dropped out this week, was endorsed on Friday by Republican chairmen Craig Eaton of Brooklyn, Doug Colety of Westchester, Vincent Reda of Rockland, and Jay Savin of the Bronx. Added to his existing endorsements from county chairmen, Lazio now has 55% of the weighted vote in this spring's Republican convention pledged to him.

He's not completely out of the woods yet. Nominally Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has been floating himself as a possible candidate for the Republican nomination in case Lazio doesn't work out. He's gotten some favorable attention from party chairs and from State Chair Ed Cox, who, like some other state Republicans, clearly is not as thrilled as he could be with Lazio

"At the moment, he is the candidate," Cox said when asked if he supports the former Long Island congressman or is looking for a better known, perhaps better-funded, gubernatorial contender.

Both Cox and Lazio's political patron former Senator Al D'Amato reportedly asked Lazio to pass on the Governor's race and challenge Kirsten Gillibrand instead.

Lazio, a former Wall Street lobbyist, is running as the candidate of people with no voice in government.

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Cuomo's road, if he decides to take it, looks a little smoother. The Democratic chairs of 17 upstate counties met yesterday in Albany to discuss the 2010 ticket and who would be on it. The get-together took place over the objections of both State Chair Jay Jacobs and, according to the Post, Governor Paterson.

No consensus appeared out of the meeting, which was called by the Cuomo-supporting chairs of Albany and Saratoga Counties, was supposed to be off the record, and was immediately leaked by both sides. The News cited "sources" for putting five County Chairs who declared themselves at Cuomo's side, and five at Paterson's. The Post quotes (presumably different) sources placing "15 of 17" with Cuomo.

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None of those may be the important numbers anyway. The important numbers, in November, if not now, may be the ones we know for sure: Cuomo has $16.1 million in hand. Levy has $4 million. Paterson has $3.1 million. Lazio has $637,000.

That's the kind of support it's hard to spin away in a state race.


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