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Ex-Dem Levy courting State Senate Republicans

Governors Race

Steve Levy, right, jokes with New York State Republican Chairman Ed Cox, center, before announcing his Republican candidacy for New York State governor on Friday in Albany. Photo by Associated Press

Democrat-turned-Republican Steve Levy, vying for the GOP gubernatorial nomination,
heads to Albany today to court Senate Republicans for his fledgling campaign.

Levy is running an uphill race against Rick Lazio, a former congressman from Long Island
who has been maneuvering in GOP circles for the governor's nomination for the better part of a
year and has won a number of endorsements from county Republican leaders.

But Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos, who is presiding over this afternoon's closed-door
session featuring Levy, said his support is still with Lazio. "I endorsed Rick Lazio over a
month ago, and I intend to maintain that commitment," the Nassau County Republican said.

But Skelos is breaking with some Republicans who have angrily lashed out at Levy, the
Suffolk County executive, as a partisan turncoat who has no business running for the GOP

"I think it's terrific for the party that there's competition," Skelos said. He noted the
entry of Levy into the race, along with flirting of a run by Buffalo businessman Carl
Paladino, "adds excitement" to the campaign and gets people talking about the GOP ticket.

-- Tom Precious

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