N.Y. GOP Leaders Want Pirro to Drop Senate Bid

New York's Republican Party county leaders recommended Monday that Jeanine Pirro abandon her struggling campaign to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and instead run for state attorney general.

State GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik said no vote was taken but that was the consensus of the county leaders. Rockland County Chairman Vincent Reda said the support for a Pirro switch was "overwhelming."

Pirro issued a terse response.

"I remain a candidate for U.S. Senate, but I greatly respect the opinion of the county chairs and their confidence in my abilities as a statewide candidate," said Pirro, a high-profile Westchester County district attorney.

The county chairmen also voted in favor of having former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld run for governor in his native New York, Minarik said. However, that ballot was not unanimous and many of the county chairmen did not vote.

Weld and former state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso pressed for the GOP's county chairmen to take the vote.

The recommendation that Pirro give up the race against the popular and well-financed Clinton follows months of disarray in her campaign, from the formal announcement when she lost a page from her speech and stood silent for 32 seconds, to an anemic fundraising effort.

The attorney general's office is being vacated by Democrat Eliot Spitzer, who is the only announced Democratic candidate for governor. Gov. George Pataki is not seeking a fourth, four-year term next year.

Independent polls have shown Clinton and Spitzer well ahead of their potential Republican challengers.

If Pirro does bow out of the GOP Senate race, former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and tax attorney William Brenner are actively seeking the nomination.

The GOP nomination for governor also is being sought by Randy Daniels, New York's former appointed secretary of state, and state Assemblyman Patrick Manning.