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Gay-friendly Republican considers run for New York governor (15854)


Gay-friendly Republican considers run for New York governor

Former Massachusetts governor William Weld said Tuesday he is seriously considering running for governor of New York if fellow Republican incumbent governor George Pataki does not seek a fourth term next year. Weld, who has been a strong supporter of gay equality, said he would stay out of the race if former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani runs. "I'm very close to both those guys," said Weld, who moved back to his native New York in 2000.

There has been growing speculation in New York political circles that Pataki is eyeing a run for the GOP nomination for president in 2008 and will not run for reelection, although he has not yet tipped his hand. Giuliani's top political adviser told the Associated Press earlier this month the former mayor was too busy with private business interests to run for governor or U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Hillary Rodham Clinton next year. "I think he's going to run for president, but I don't know," Weld said when asked about Pataki's plans. "I have actually not spoken to him about that."

Weld said he was not considering running against the former first lady, noting they were old friends. "We worked on the Nixon impeachment hearings together in 1973-1974," Weld said. "I think governor is a better job. It's certainly an intriguing possibility, and it depends on what the governor decides, what Mayor Giuliani decides, and to some extent how the business I'm involved in develops." Weld is a partner in the New York City-based private equity investment firm, Leeds Weld & Co.

Weld expects to make a decision this fall. State attorney general Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, has already announced he is running for governor. "I think he would be very strong," Weld said. "I think I could beat him. I think he could beat me. It'd be pay-to-get-in. Neither of us is a shrinking violet."

Weld said he was very close to Pataki on some issues, supporting strong environmental initiatives as well as abortion and gay rights, but parts company with Pataki's strong advocacy of gun-control legislation. "I'm not identified as a lefty on that issue," he said. "I'm a gun owner and hunter. I've not made my name as a crusading gun-control advocate. I own too many guns." Noting that he still owns a fishing camp in the heart of New York's Adirondack Mountains, a center for hunting and fishing, Weld joked: "It's also important to have people up there speak to me."

Sam Houston is the only two-state governor in history, having served in Tennessee from 1827 to 1829 and Texas from 1859 to 1861. Since moving back to New York five years ago from Massachusetts, Weld has kept speculation alive that he might someday run for governor of the state where he grew up. Raised on Long Island, Weld maintained the Adirondacks retreat even while governor of Massachusetts.

Weld was elected governor of Massachusetts in 1990 and easily reelected in 1994. He was defeated in the 1996 U.S. Senate race by Democratic incumbent John Kerry and resigned the next year when then-president Clinton nominated him to become U.S. ambassador to Mexico. The nomination was blocked by Sen. Jesse Helms, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP)

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