Lazio keeps Senate campaign on hold
September 1, 1999
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Again heeding the request of Gov. George Pataki, Republican Rep. Rick Lazio of Long Island is still planning to sit out New York's 2000 Senate race and not contest New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the GOP nomination.
Three weeks ago, Lazio deferred his entry into the race at the urging of Pataki, the state's top Republican. Pataki had endorsed Giuliani, saying a united Republican Party is needed to elect a Republican senator.
Lazio and Pataki met again Tuesday to discuss the race.
Lazio deferred his entry into the race three weeks ago
"Governor Pataki requested that Congressman Lazio continue to defer his announcement and give Mayor Giuliani more time to make his decision," said a short statement issued by Lazio's campaign office on Wednesday. "Congressman Lazio agreed to the governor's request."
Lazio, 41, a four-term member of the House of Representatives, was considering running for the same seat as Giuliani and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who isn't likely to face a challenger for the Democratic nomination if she decides to run.
When Lazio initially stepped aside, he said he was not completely withdrawing from the Senate race, keeping his options open in case the mayor decides against running for the seat being vacated next year by Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
"I am the better candidate. I am ready to get into this race, but I am doing right now what is in the best interests of the Republican Party. I don't agree with Governor Pataki here but I am doing this out of respect for him," Lazio said on August 11.
Pataki's endorsement of Giuliani was designed to avoid a potentially bitter GOP primary that would have been both politically and financially expensive. The governor had been under pressure from some national and New York GOP leaders to use his muscle to keep Lazio out of the race on the grounds that Giuliani would be a stronger Republican candidate.
When he dropped out last month, Lazio asked Giuliani to commit to the race by August 31. Giuliani did not comply and has not indicated when he will announce his entry.
The unofficial Giuliani deadline had been suggested by the state's GOP chairman, William Powers. Powers now says he believes Giuliani's actions -- traveling upstate to speak to Republican groups, raising money for himself and the party -- show he is committed to the race, and he was not holding him to the deadline.
CNN's Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report.