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Gianaris eyes race for Spitzer’s seat

State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) has begun raising more than $1 million for a possible campaign for state attorney general in 2006, but he said he will run for the post only if current office holder Eliot Spitzer decides not to seek re-election.

Gianaris filed his January financial statements with the state Board of Elections for the committee he formed in March last year to solicit campaign contributions for the possible run for state attorney general.

“I think the fact that we’ve raised more than $1 million shows a tremendous level of support for me to run for state attorney general,” Gianaris said. “But I won’t run for the post if Eliot Spitzer decides to run again. I formed this committee to raise money for the campaign, but it doesn’t mean I will necessarily run.”

Spitzer, a Democrat who was elected in 1998, is widely expected to make a bid for the governor’s slot in 2006. He has developed wide support for his aggressive pursuit of white collar firms on Wall Street that had dealings with Enron, the once high-flying Houston energy company.

Gianaris made it clear he intends to seek re-election to the state Assembly in November.

“I don’t want anyone to think I won’t be seeking re-election this year,” Gianaris said. “A term in the Assembly is two years, so I could serve my term and still be able to run for attorney general in 2006.”

Gianaris cited his education at Harvard Law School, his previous experience as a practicing lawyer, and his experience as an assemblyman as traits that would make him a good candidate for state attorney general.

“I see state attorney general as a way to continue working on the issues I’ve focused on in the Assembly,” Gianaris said. “Things like security against terrorism and protection of the environment are issues I would continue to work for.”

Spitzer has not publicly stated whether he will seek re-election in 2006, but several others have expressed an interest in running for the post.

Among them are former lieutenant governor candidate Charlie King, Assemblyman Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx), former New York City Consumer Advocate Mark Green, and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester).

According to their January financial statements, Klein has raised $1.02 million, compared with $98,130 for King and $356,435 for Brodsky, according to the state Board of Elections.

Reach Reporter Tom Nicholson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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