Giuliani To Face Conservative Opposition in New York Senate Race

By Jerry Miller | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will face conservative opposition in his bid to become the state's next U.S. Senator. Former U.S. Rep. Joseph DioGuardi said he will seek the nomination of the Conservative Party, as well as the Independence and Right to Life parties in the November contest. The Independence Party is the state's Reform Party affiliate.

While Giuliani and DioGuardi are both Republicans, Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long has already said he will not back the mayor, in part given Giuliani's support for abortion and homosexual rights.

In addressing his decision to challenge the two-term mayor, DioGuardi said, "It's not that Giuliani isn't conservative enough, he's not conservative at all." The one-time congressman insisted his decision is unrelated to the mayor's announcement last week, that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and added, "There are many people in New York who are not going to vote if Giuliani and Clinton are the only choices."

Despite the announced challenge, the mayor said he will go after the Conservative Party line and would seek a meeting with Long. The Giuliani-Long relationship has been strained. Addressing the possibility of meeting with the mayor, Long said he has repeatedly said he is willing, but insisted it was Giuliani who rejected a face-to-face session. "It seems coincidental that all of a sudden a story appears and the phone rings first thing in the morning, saying the mayor would like to meet with you."

"My door is open to discussion," Long said. However the chairman insisted he could not support the party endorsing Giuliani, unless the mayor dropped his opposition to late term abortions and abandoned his effort to also seek the endorsement of the state's Liberal Party. "If he gets their endorsement, I would consider that he has slammed the door shut...the only thing left for him to do is to have people call me names and then try to bully his way into a primary somehow. I think that's pure arrogance if that's what they do."

As for the mayor, he expressed confidence he would win the Conservative Party's support. "I would be pretty confident that I would win a Conservative Party primary," Giuliani said.

Meanwhile, a new Quinnipiac College poll has First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton narrowly leading Giuliani by a margin of 46 to 44 percent. The result is unchanged from a month ago. The survey also found no significant change in voter attitudes since the mayor disclosed he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

In a close Giuliani-Clinton contest, a conservative challenge might be enough to throw the contest to the First Lady. Since 1974, no Republican has won a statewide election without the Conservative Party endorsement.

In a related development, U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Nassau Republican, said he would consider entering the Senate contest, should the mayor's illness force a withdrawal. However, King characterized Giuliani as "our strongest candidate" and said he continues to back him.