Thursday, December 22, 2005

Des-Pirro-t Moves

Pirro drops Senate bid to run for Attorney General


December 22, 2005

Finally bowing to the wishes of powerful figures in the Republican party, Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro brought an end to her beleaguered U.S. Senate campaign yesterday, saying she would instead run for attorney general.

Pirro, whose 12-year tenure as Westchester District Attorney draws to a close at the end of the year, said she hopes to build on her career as a prosecutor, echoing the calls of fellow Republicans who had said she was more suited to run for that office.

"I have concluded that my head and my heart remain in law enforcement," she said in a statement, adding she would make a formal announcement next month.

A Pirro bid for attorney general potentially sets her up for a run against former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, the former Housing and Urban Development Secretary. Former New York City mayoral candidate Mark Green is also in the Democratic field.

If Pirro is chosen by Republicans to run for attorney general she would again be forced to defend the illegal activities of her husband, Al Pirro, who was convicted in 2000 of tax fraud.

Pirro's decision immediately opened the door for Manhattan lawyer Ed Cox, a son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon, to re-enter the Senate race. He withdrew in October after Gov. George Pataki endorsed Pirro. But yesterday, a Cox spokesman would not comment on that prospect.
Not just on Pirro's part, since she's clearly going to be in a dogfight against either Cuomo (who has his own marital issues to defend) or Green, but on the GOP part.

Again, I'm not sure you want the son-in-law of the second-most corrupt President in the nation's history running against the wife of the perhaps least corrupt President of the past fifty years (OK, Carter, but I think it's pretty close, absent the sexual improprieties). I can imagine the campaign now: "You had a choice and married into the Nixon family????" followed by loud raucous laughter.

By the way, for you out-of-state'rs, here's a good primer on the New York GOP:
State GOP Smackdown!
With the end of Pataki’s reign nigh, the New York State Republican party seems to be at war with itself. A handy guide to who’s stabbing whom in the back, and why.

Pataki’s Inner Circle
Governor George Pataki

Current Play: Trying to convince national GOP leaders he’s presidential material; plotting to avoid being associated with high-profile 2006 losses.
Boosting: Himself, Pirro (tepidly), Weld (to punish longtime rival Tom Golisano).

State GOP Chair Stephen Minarik
Current Play: Hanging on as party supremo.
Boosting: Socially liberal candidates Pirro and Weld.
Undermining: Conservative Party honcho Mike Long and his power over the GOP.
Strategy: Strong-arming county chairmen into supporting his duo.

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld
Current Play: Hoping his blue-blood charm will out-affable Spitzer to win governorship.
Boosting: Minarik, his prime sponsor.
Strategy: Pushing for Minarik-engineered “straw poll” of county chairs to shore up his candidacy.

Westchester D.A. Jeanine Pirro
Current Play: After her Senate bid was betrayed by Bruno and others who want to take control of the party from Minarik, she’s fighting for her political life.
Boosting: Minarik.
Strategy: Staged “summit meeting” with Pataki to create impression he’d rallied for her.

Former Senator (and current lobbyist) Al D’Amato
Current Play: Plotting to maintain influence in post-Pataki Albany.
Boosting: Pirro (in hopes of selling access to her later).
Backup Plan: He’s crossed party lines to talk up Spitzer, hoping likely future gov will give him the access to keep his lobbying biz alive.

The Insurrectionists
State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno
Current Play: Hanging on to slim State Senate majority.
Boosting: Golisano, hoping he’ll bankroll Senate candidates and goose turnout.
Undermining: Minarik, Pirro, Weld.
Strategy: By slaying Pirro and Weld, he destroys archrival Minarik.

Rochester Billionaire Tom Golisano
Current Play:
Gubernatorial candidacy as hostile takeover of state GOP after losing repeatedly to Pataki.
Boosting: Bruno.
Undermining: Minarik, because he hand-picked Weld.

Conservative Party Boss Mike Long
Current Play:
Figuring out how to maintain influence over state GOP.
Boosting: Himself.
Undermining: Pirro, Weld, Minarik.
Strategy: By withholding support from Pirro and Weld, he hopes to turn worried GOP activists against Minarik.

The Free Agents
Former Congressman Rick Lazio

Current Play: Floating his name for attorney general while sitting at his desk at JPMorgan Chase.
Strategy: Waiting to see if GOP primary field is clear before running (and apparently wondering if it’s worth sacrificing his Wall Street bonus).

Former Secretary of State Randy Daniels
Current Play: Hoping to become governor by siphoning minority votes from Spitzer while also running as the conservative candidate.
Boosting: Long.
Undermining: Minarik.
Strategy: Hoping to turn GOP rank and file against liberal Weld.

Lobbyist John Faso
Current Play: Selling himself as a Long Island version of tax-cutting Pataki.
Boosting: Himself.
Undermining: Weld, Daniels, Golisano.
Hidden Agenda: High-profile statewide loss would still boost profile (and lobbying business).

Mayor Mike Bloomberg
Current Play: Trying to leverage his landslide into Albany influence.
Boosting: Minarik’s state party for helping him win, punishing Democratic Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver for sinking his stadium (but not enough to alienate probable Dem governor Spitzer).