Could Rudy Go to the Senate?

Speculation runs rampant about a 2010 Senate bid and subsequent presidential campaign

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Rudy Giuliani, former New York Mayor and failed candidate for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination, is the subject of two juicy bites of news. The first is the New York Times' report that he won't seek the New York governor's mansion in 2010, despite long-standing speculation. The second is the New York Daily News's bombshell claiming it's because he's actually running for the Senate. (Giuliani's spokesperson denies it.) If true, Guiliani would contest Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for the seat she was appointed to last year, replacing Hillary Clinton. The possibility raises speculation that Guiliani would use the Senate seat as a platform to run for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2012. Would he have a shot?

  • Could Win Senate  The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza lists two reason he'd beat Gillibrand, in addition to his current polling lead: "near-universal name recognition" and a "vast national fundraising network" left over from his failed presidential run. "On its face, the Senate race is a more winnable race [than governor] for Giuliani. Gillibrand was appointed to the seat by Gov. David Paterson (D) earlier this year and remains a somewhat unknown commodity statewide."
  • Foreign Policy Experience  The Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti points out that Guiliani would boost his diplomatic cred. "If elected to the Senate, Giuliani would immediately become a prominent spokesman for an assertive U.S. foreign and counter-terrorism policy." Continetti, who just released a book praising Sarah Palin's political prospects, dismisses the possibility of a Guiliani run. "But who's to say? At the moment, Giuliani's future, like the political future in general, remains unknown."
  • Running Against Palin?!  Gawker's John Cook is skeptical. "He lost his first bid for the Replublican nomination for a reason: He's a gay-loving abortionist whose name ends in a vowel and whose children hate him. The ever-diminishing number of angry people who describe themselves as Republicans are going to flock to Palin over him." But he sees the logic in a Senate run. "He's crushing Gillibrand in the polls right now, and the Senate could be a better place from which to prepare a 2012 presidential bid, lacking as it does all the unpleasantness associated with actually governing a nearly ungovernable state."
  • No Path to Presidency  The American Spectator's Philip Klein insists that, for Rudy, it's not through the Senate. Guiliani would have to hew hard left for New York to send him to the Senate, where he would vote on the national issues on which the state is so liberal.
Even if he were to win the Senate seat, the battle for the Republican nomination would begin the morning after. After repositioning himself as a moderate once again to win in New York, Giuliani would then have to instantly turn around again to court the conservative base. And throughout 2011 -- theoretically his first year in office -- his potential rivals would be hunkering down in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. If he joins them, he'll recieve a heap of criticism back home, and yet if he doesn't, he'd have no realistic chance of competing. And without much of a voting record to reassure conservatives who rejected him in 2008, there's no reason to think he'd make the sale in 2012.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.