Rick Lazio's Second Chance: A Run For NY Governor

Much like no-limit Texas Hold 'em poker and hermit crab racing, politics is a game where you are rarely offered a second chance these days. Perennial candidates in national or statewide races -- a regular feature in America through the first half of the 20th century -- have been largely driven toward extinction by a prevailing political wind which banishes losers to the gulag of the Trivial Pursuit realm.

Out here in New York, though, Rick Lazio is looking to break that mold and make another grab at the brass ring by tossing his hat in the ring for the 2010 governor's race.

Lazio has made no public announcement and [spokesman Barney] Keller said the former congressman from Long Island is still deciding when to make the decision formal. Lazio has formed a campaign committee and his website is soliciting contributions.

"This campaign will be about the future of New York and what kind of New York we want our children and grandchildren to inherit," Lazio says on the website.

I was a volunteer for Lazio's last campaign, and I've already sent off a letter indicating my interest in participating again. In the midst of a season of doom and gloom where most of the media is writing obituaries for the Republican Party, Lazio's prospects may not be as bleak as some observers might believe.

Governor David Paterson has already indicated his intention to run for a full term of his own and, rumors to the contrary, Andrew Cuomo may be loathe to challenge him in a primary. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Paterson's approval numbers are currently running well south of both Nancy Pelosi and Dick Cheney. (Though to be fair, he is still widely regarded as being more popular than Iranian President Ahmadinejad by a margin of at least four to seven points.)

Lazio's numbers are a bit more hazy, primarily because voters outside of his former congressional district still know very little about him. A closer look at his background, however, may set their minds at ease. He served a stint representing New York's second district from 1993 until 2001. During that time he quickly rose to the position of the GOP's deputy majority whip and assistant majority leader.

His position as chairman of the House Banking Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity may also be a feather in his cap, given some of the highest priorities for New York voters today. Prior to his time in Congress he was also the assistant district attorney for Suffolk County and served in the county legislature.