Rudolph Giuliani did not retire from public life today, as I thought he might, and that's a problem for Republicans in New York State. Expected to be a favorite had he run either for Governor or Senator, the former mayor of New York renounced political ambitions for next year only, citing "pretty significant commitments." He then endorsed Rick Lazio for the Republican senatorial nomination as a challenger to Sen. Gillibrand. Lazio was the second-string Republican back in 2000, when Giuliani withdrew from the race against the present Sen. Clinton for health reasons. It's possible that health concerns are in back of his vague official excuse this time, but he may feel that his consulting business has higher priority right now, and his disastrous campaign for the presidential nomination last year may have spooked him off of politics for years to come. But as long as he doesn't renounce politics permanently he's still going to be considered the front-runner among Republicans for any statewide election with a Democratic incumbent. As long as that's the case, people like Lazio or whoever ends up getting the GOP gubernatorial nomination are going to look like second-stringers, second-class candidates. Whether than impression is rational or not it's bound to hurt Republican candidates. Not that I'm complaining, but looking at things objectively I have to advise the state party to pressure Giuliani to retire from politics once and for all simply so Lazio and other wannabes can step out of his shadow to be judged on their own merits, not relative to his.
Speaking for myself, I'd applaud Giuliani's permanent withdraw from the political scene. There is an unseemly authoritarian streak to the man that became most obvious when he sought an emergency extension of his final mayoral term following the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York. He seems an unlikely representative of a party supposedly dedicated to minimal government unless his prominence and popularity among Republicans betrays their desire for a maximization of government in some areas. But even if he hasn't truly retired from politics, I don't think we really have to worry about him. To drop out at a point when Republicans can still believe that either office up for grabs next year was his for the taking should brand him for good as a gun-shy quitter. Giuliani may not have given up on politics, but New Yorkers should give up on him.