Several prominent Western New York Republicans are emerging as key financial supporters of former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's presidential bid, including some with close ties to another New Yorker eyeing the job -- Gov. George E. Pataki.
Former Ambassador to Malta Anthony H. Gioia, County Executive Joel A. Giambra and former Rep. Jack F. Quinn Jr. are among those who attended a $2,100-per-ticket fundraiser for Giuliani in Manhattan this week. And it appears that Gioia and Lockport developer David Ulrich, a longtime Giuliani supporter, will orchestrate the former mayor's Western New York activities.
"He's a proven leader who's right on the issues and can articulate them to the rest of the world," Gioia said. "He's no-nonsense on terrorism and moderate on social issues, and that's OK."
Gioia, who served three years as ambassador to Malta, is one of New York State's most experienced political fundraisers. He has served as a key money man for Pataki, former Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato and President Bush. He also was part of Giuliani's short-lived Senate campaign, and has had the former mayor as a guest at his North Buffalo home for a D'Amato fundraiser.
In 2000 he helped raise about $500,000 at an event in his Meadow Road home in which former President George H.W. Bush was the headline guest.
"Western New York is well represented on the national finance committee, and we're going to play a role," he said. "We're excited about this because if the mayor is the nominee, New York will be in play, and New York has not been in play since 1984."
No Republican presidential candidate has carried the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Gioia acknowledged he and other Republicans recognize that Pataki is also exploring a presidential candidacy.
"I love the governor, and he's done a good job," Gioia said. "But in terms of running, Rudy Giuliani is absolutely the best candidate. This is not about friendship."
Giambra also has long ties to Giuliani, recalling that he and the former mayor have had conversations about their mutual dealings with cancer. The county executive said he is looking forward to "making Mayor Giuliani, President Giuliani.
"Democrats and Republicans alike are going to be looking for a strong, tested leader," said Giambra, who is also a close Pataki associate.
Quinn will serve with the others on Giuliani's national finance committee, and he said he also expects to appear on Giuliani's behalf from time to time.
"I'll be asked to represent him at opportunities where there's a need for a surrogate speaker," said Quinn, currently a Washington lobbyist who is often asked to comment on network political programs.
Ulrich, a Lockport developer who will serve with Gioia as co-chairman of Giuliani's Western New York effort, also has a long relationship with the ex-mayor. He hosted a fundraiser for Giuliani at his home in 1998 that netted about $100,000.
David Pfalzgraf Jr., a Buffalo attorney, is also expected to assume a role in the campaign.