ALBANY—Before a small audience in a banquet hall near the Capitol, Rick Lazio formally declared his candidacy for governor, saying "the path we are on now is not self-correcting."
Lazio, a Republican ex-congressman from Long Island, is the first candidate to publicly declare he is running against David Paterson, the troubled incumbent governor. During his kick-off speech, Lazio called for a "hard cap" on state spending, "flexibility" for some campuses in the SUNY system, and concerted efforts to "return integrity to government." He backed the last point with some concrete ideas: a Constitutional convention, the instatement of a unicameral legislature, term limits and tougher ethics enforcement laws.
"It's like fixing a leaky roof. You fix it five times, you fix it 10 times, you fix it 15 times," Lazio said. "At some point you must simply replace the roof."
"It's time to replace state government with a government that this state needs," he added. "With new ideas and leadership, it can be done."
Lazio took questions from reporters after his speech. The first was obvious: will he remain in the race if Rudy Giuliani declares his candidacy? Or if Andrew Cuomo became the Democratic nominee?
"I'm going to be in this race until the end," Lazio replied. "I'm in it until the end."
"I'll be in this race until the end."