NY GOP Now Rallying Behind Lazio

By Bob Melvin | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - With Rudy Giuliani now out of the running for the Empire State's US Senate seat by choice, New York Republicans are rallying behind US Representative Rick Lazio, a 42-year-old, four-term congressman regarded as a strong conservative, Republican insider and party favorite.

"I am looking forward to entering this campaign with enthusiasm, and I will have a lot more to say over the next couple of days," Lazio said late on Friday.

Lazio is the handpicked choice of New York Governor George Pataki.

Another possible Republican candidate to replace Giuliani as the the opponent this coming fall against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Reperesentative Peter King of Long Island, told the media on Friday that Pataki's support of Lazio will keep him out of the race. King said that if Lazio is the party's nominee, then he will support him fully.

Pataki reportedly has full control of the votes at the Republican state convention scheduled for May 30th in Buffalo.

Lazio had been preparing to run for Senate until last August. At that time, Pataki endorsed Giuliani and asked Lazio to suspend his campaign.

However, Giuliani's diagnosis with prostate cancer and separation from his wife, Donna Hanover, threw his campaign into turmoil over the past three weeks thereby resurrecting Lazio's name atop a short list of potential candidate's to replace Giuliani in the race.

Lazio reportedly has nearly $3.5 million in his campaign war chest.

Sources close to Hillary Clinton stated earlier this week that the First Lady's campaign workers had begun mapping out strategies for a possible run against Lazio.

With Pataki's endorsement and King's decision not to run, Lazio seemed a shoe-in for the Republican Senate nomination.

Wall Street multi-millionaire Ted Forstram also has expressed an interest in running.