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Lazio prepares a run for governor

As Republicans await word on whether their biggest gun -- Rudolph Giuliani -- will run for governor, a former Long Island congressman who previously lost the 2000 U.S. Senate race to Hillary Rodham Clinton is preparing to announce his own gubernatorial bid next week.

Rick Lazio, a Republican, wrote supporters to say he will formally declare his candidacy Monday at the state Capitol, then will make a weeklong tour of the state, including a stop in Buffalo.

Precisely whom Lazio, if he were to be the GOP nominee, would run against on the Democratic side is not entirely certain yet. Gov. David A. Paterson has said he will be the candidate for the Democrats, but a number of party insiders have been working to put Attorney General Andrew Cuomo at the top of the ticket next year.

Lazio stumbled a number of times during his failed 2000 run against Clinton, who swept a number of traditionally Republican upstate counties. Their most famous duel came during a televised debate in Buffalo, which included everything from barbs over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal to Lazio's controversial decision to approach Clinton at her podium.

Lazio, who has held a number of private sector jobs since leaving Congress in 2000, declined interview requests Tuesday.

In a brief written statement, Lazio attacked Albany as "broken" and in need of "sweeping change." In his Sept. 14 letter to supporters, he asked for donations to help fund what he said will be an "astronomically expensive race."

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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