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As the seemingly unending 2008 presidential campaign continues into the pre-convention stage, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is now turning attention to his Republican vice presidential choice. Over Memorial Day weekend, McCain held a social get-together of prospective nominees at his Arizona ranch. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was not invited; those who were included former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Florida Gov. Charles Crist and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

When Giuliani dropped out of the presidential campaign after his poor Florida primary showing and endorsed McCain for president, there was speculation at the time that McCain would consider Giuliani as a running mate. If Giuliani had any hopes of becoming a vice presidential candidate, those hopes are now diminished as a result of the weekend meeting.

Romney seems to be viewed as a strong contender for a place on the ticket, considering that he won a third of the Republican presidential primaries on Super Tuesday, when 21 state primaries were held at the same time. He won those primaries by significant margins.

Regarding Giuliani's political attempts to gain higher office, in 2000 he almost ran for the U.S. Senate against U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), but dropped out at the last minute and continued to serve out his term as mayor. In 2006, he briefly considered running for New York governor against former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, but decided to compete for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Toward the end of 2007, his campaign showed promise, but faltered — especially after he and his staff decided to forego early primaries and concentrate on the Florida Republican primary. One reason for this was that many former New Yorkers living in Florida would help Giuliani's final vote totals. It did not happen. He got only 15 percent of the Florida vote, which ended his presidential bid.

After the controversial revelations about New York Gov. David Paterson surfaced, various publications noted that if Paterson was forced to resign, Giuliani indicated that he was interested in running for governor this year if a special election for the office was held. As it turned out, Paterson weathered the storm and has continued serving.

Assuming Giuliani is still interested in obtaining a higher political office, his options are limited unless he runs next year for his former mayoral position. This year he has lost his opportunity to be a presidential candidate, and whatever chance he had to be a vice presidential candidate is probably gone. In 2010, he could seek the Republican gubernatorial or U.S. Senate nomination, but his disastrous presidential race will not help him obtain his party's nomination.

For either of these offices, there is also the matter of the state Conservative Party's willingness to endorse Giuliani for statewide office in 2010. Any Republican who wants a statewide office needs Conservative Party support. If he considers running next year for his former mayoral position, he could also run into difficulty from the state Liberal Party, a major factor in his winning the 1993 mayoral election. Today, the Liberal Party is not on the ballot, so Giuliani, to run for mayor, would have to seek allegiances with other political parties besides the Republican Party.

At some point, Giuliani may find himself in competition with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the pursuit of a higher state office. If so, Giuliani would also be in competition with Bloomberg's huge financial resources, which Bloomberg has willingly thrown into political campaigns.

Finally, Giuliani has joined the long list of city mayors who have sought higher office and failed. Since the late 1940s, former mayors who failed in their attempts to achieve higher office include Fiorello LaGuardia, Robert Wagner Jr., John Lindsay and Edward Koch.

In the case of Lindsay, he also bypassed opportunities to seek the statewide offices of governor or U.S. Senate, instead choosing to compete in the 1972 Democratic Party state presidential primaries — just as Giuliani competed in the Republican state presidential primaries this year. The result for both was voter rejection.

It will be interesting to see if Giuliani can break the cycle of city mayors who could not advance to higher office.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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