Giuliani eyeballing Paterson's seat

With Governor David Paterson’s approval ratings crashing and New Yorkers increasingly dissatisfied with the direction Democratic leadership has taken, the ground may be prepared for Rudy Giuliani’s re-entry into electoral politics.  His advisers draw parallels between New York City before Giuliani’s successful terms as mayor and the state in 2009, saying that Giuliani can bring change — and competence — to Albany.  Giuliani’s entry might wind up burying the incumbent, however, which might make Giuliani’s task more difficult:

Mr. Giuliani has told associates that he will decide on a candidacy within 30 to 60 days, as he weighs whether he can be elected statewide and what impact another campaign would have on his business interests.

He is already laying the groundwork. On Friday he traveled to Long Island to encourage the state Republican Party chairman, Joseph N. Mondello, to step aside, a maneuver that party insiders viewed as the former mayor’s most concrete step yet toward a run.

On Monday, Mr. Mondello announced his resignation, and Mr. Giuliani’s lieutenants were working the phones to drum up support for the replacement they prefer, the Niagara County Republican chairman, Henry F. Wojtaszek, a longtime supporter of Mr. Giuliani’s.

Democrats soured on Paterson long ago, but any party would hesitate to toss away the advantages of incumbency.  If the GOP ran a lower-profile candidate like Rick Lazio or Peter King, they might stick with Paterson despite his low popularity.  With Giuliani entering the fray, though, that will almost certainly push Democrats to dump the incumbent and go with the heir apparent:

His aides and other Republicans believe he could handily beat Gov. David A. Paterson; they cite any number of polls that have included hypothetical match-ups, as well as Mr. Paterson’s dismal approval numbers. Taking on Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, who many Democrats hope will be the party’s candidate for governor in 2010, would be a more difficult test, the aides say.

In fact, rumblings about a Giuliani candidacy are already improving Mr. Cuomo’s stature among Democratic strategists, who believe he would be a far better candidate than Mr. Paterson to face Mr. Giuliani in the general election. Mr. Giuliani’s aides insist that his decision will not be influenced by Mr. Cuomo, who is not expected to decide about running for governor until next year.

Considering the deterioration of Paterson, that was a likely outcome regardless of Giuliani’s decision.  In fact, the dynamic may be going in the opposite direction.  There seems little doubt that, advantages of incumbency notwithstanding, New Yorkers would toss Paterson out on his ear next year in favor of either Lazio or King.  The threat would be if Democrats ran Cuomo instead of Paterson.  Cuomo could easily swamp Lazio or King in a statewide fight.  Cuomo has already won a state-wide election, something neither Lazio or King has done.

Giuliani would counter that move for Republicans, and he seems more than interested in that fight.  As one of his aides pointed out to the New York Times, people don’t get involved in state party leadership fights unless they have a vested interest in the outcome.  It’s one of the least attractive aspects of politics, and only someone who needs to work at that level will volunteer to step into that morass.

Get ready for another Rudy run.  If he does run against Cuomo, it should be an epic battle.