Joel A. Giambra on Thursday ended his campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but said he will continue his efforts by seeking to run on the minor Reform Party line.
Acknowledging his failure to generate any enthusiasm within the state GOP, the former Erie County executive dropped out one day before party leaders gathering in Saratoga Springs slated a nonbinding straw poll to identify a front-runner to challenge Democratic incumbent Andrew M. Cuomo in November. Giambra said he will remain a member of the Republican Party, but recognized his “moderate” platform was not resonating.
“I don’t think my independent message has connected with state Republican leaders who seem intent on continuing the losing formula that all but guarantees a third term for Democrat Andrew Cuomo,” he said. “The two major parties are resistant to the idea of change despite the corruption and high taxes that have become a way of life in this state.”
Giambra’s exit from the Republican race leaves state Sen. John A. DeFrancisco of Syracuse as the favorite to win the straw poll set for Friday. While the senator has garnered considerable support from party leaders around the state, some are still urging Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro – who said he would not run – to reconsider.
The Friday session is also considered significant since Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy last week convinced the state party to ask all interested gubernatorial candidates to declare before the Saratoga session. Delegates are gathering there to nominate party fundraiser Chele Chiavacci Farley to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand in November.
Giambra now says he hopes to continue as a candidate for governor on the Reform line, headed by Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, who said Thursday he is "impressed" by Giambra but not yet ready to commit to his candidacy.
"I don't want the baggage of the Republicans and Conservatives, and he is very promising," he said. "He's certainly got my vote on his positions so far, but we will reserve judgement."
Sliwa said some candidates for governor will participate in a March 15 debate sponsored by the party at WABC Radio in New York, where he hosts two daily talk shows. He said the party's full committee is eyeing a late March or early April decision on its candidate.
“The real fix starts at the top and can only happen with a governor who is independent of the corrupt Albany culture,” Giambra said. “That is what my campaign has been about since day one and this is now why I believe my message will be best heard and responded to as an independent candidate.”
Giambra received virtually no support from GOP leaders and faced daunting odds as a primary candidate, too. State Conservative Chairman Michael R. Long had also ruled out Giambra, presenting another challenge since no Republican candidate has won statewide office without the minor party’s backing since 1974.
Still, Giambra has continued a campaign that features a plan for renovating the New York City subway system as well as legalizing marijuana.