Weld Gives State Republicans A Reason To Party


By Queens Courier Staff |

After bashing this year’s municipal elections as “boring” in this space last week, I had my pencil sharpened to take aim at similarly dull statewide races next year.
Alas, like Jeanine Pirro without a script, I must be able to shift-on-the-fly and roll with the punches (yeah, right…we’ll deal with her in a moment).
Last Friday’s announcement from William Weld that he intended to seek the Republican nod for Governor next year was a shot in the arm for a flailing GOP. The party was already done, as far as I was concerned, in all three major statewide races in ’06.
Pirro opted out of the Attorney General race to clog up the Senate race with two Republicans and New York’s Secretary of State Randy Daniels was the only GOP candidate for governor that anyone was taking seriously (because can anyone really take Tom Golisano seriously?).
While Daniels was a viable and attractive candidate whom many GOPers, including Queens maven Serphin Maltese, liked a lot, he probably wouldn’t have been able to unite the party and muster enough support to beat Eliot Spitzer — the heavy favorite.
According to the state Board of Elections, Daniels has raised $600K; Spitzer: $16 million.
‘Nuff said there.
In Weld, the GOP has a candidate who has already done the job — albeit in Massachusetts. If he won, he would be the first person since Sam Houston to govern two states.
Almost more importantly, they have someone who has campaigned before for major office. Weld has been through wars, including a tough-loss Senate battle against John Kerry (who knows something about hard losses himself). The wily Weld has seen it and probably heard it all, and you can be sure would have something to say if he lost a page of his speech.
The bottom line is, the Republican Party now has someone capable of raising the money and fighting a winning battle against the Goliath that is Spitzer. Take Weld seriously.
Do not take seriously, though, the person who was previously being referred to as a potential breath of life for the GOP.
You heard it here first… Jeanine Pirro will be taken to the woodshed by Hillary Clinton. I don’t care that it was her first time speaking publicly as a candidate and she needs a bit more time to learn the ropes and blah, blah, blah. My dislike of her as a candidate started when she couldn’t make up her mind what office to run for. In my mind, it put the Republican Party behind the 8-ball for weeks as they waited her out.
Pirro’s obvious play would have been AG, as she could have at least made a decent case as a former DA. The race would be tough, with Dems Andrew Cuomo, Mark Green, Mike Gianaris, Jeff Klein, et al. battling it out on the other end.
You have to figure the winner of that race would be tired, battered and somewhat vulnerable after the primary.
Instead she chose to run against Hillary Clinton for Senate, when the GOP already had a decent — although still a longshot — candidate in Ed Cox. Neither candidate can beat Hil, but certainly the GOP can help itself by beating her up in the race and deflating her numbers as she looks toward 2008 and a potential presidential run.
Pirro will certainly garner the votes of the “anti-Hillary” brigade. That’s all though. Ask Rick Lazio how that works out.
Weld, though, gives the party a reason to believe next year. And how’s this for a twist? With Rudy behind Weld, as is believed, the better Weld does, the better Pirro will do, the worse Hillary appears, the better Rudy looks for his own ’08 White House run.
Coincidence? Hmm…
politics@queenscourier.com