The Collins Response: Cattiness, Holiday Wishes

ALBANY—Erie County Republican Chairman Jim Domagalski said that Rudy Giuliani’s expected endorsement of Rick Lazio is “one politician endorsing another.”

Domagalski is a booster of Chris Collins, the Erie County executive who has been moving toward a run for governor, but has not declared his candidacy. I asked Domagalski if the endorsement today would affect his thinking.

“I really don’t think it has anything to do with his calculation. I haven’t talked to the county executive since Mr. Lazio announced it at this party, reportedly,” Domagalski just told me by phone. “To me, the Giuliani endorsement of Lazio is old-school politics: one politician endorsing another politician.”

“The political climate we’re in is different than any one I’ve ever seen than anyone in history. It’s very bottom-up, taxpayer-driven, and people are angry. I don’t think one politician endorsing another–even though Rudy’s a very significant player, an American hero–it is what it is: one politician endorsing another,” Domagalski continued. “Somebody’s endorsement won’t matter. Mayor Giuliani’s endorsed the only person in the race, which is his right, and that’s not really going to change Chris’s analysis.”

Lazio and Giuliani united in their support of Henry Wojtaszek, the Niagara County Republican chairman, in his bid this summer to become the state party chairman. Collins backed Ed Cox, who was successful in his bid. The two men enjoy a close relationship.

Giuliani’s endorsement is a blow to the Collins camp–Giuliani is one of the most recognizable Republicans in the state–and he and his surrogates have been hedging.

“Chris is not a candidate yet and has not reached out for anyone’s endorsement,” Collins’ aide Chris Grant told Bob McCarthy. “He wishes the mayor luck in his private sector life.”

“When Mayor Giuliani made his endorsement for someone other than Ed Cox, Ed Cox emerged victorious,” Grant also said.

Collins’ released this statement this morning:

“Rudy and Rick have a long history and this is a nice gesture from the mayor. I wish them both a Merry Christmas, as I do Governor Paterson and Attorney General Cuomo.  It’s the holiday season and politics in earnest can wait till next year.”