Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hillary's challenger quits race


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Jeanine Pirro, the longtime prosecutor who had been set to run against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton next year, has decided to drop out of the U.S. Senate race in New York, Republican Party officials confirmed Wednesday.

An official announcement is expected later Wednesday, the officials said.

Pirro instead will run for state attorney general, an adviser said.

"This is the job that she really wants to do," the adviser said. "She's more familiar with the issues. That's what it comes down to."

Party officials said that the candidate already has discussed her plans with state party officials -- state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who publicly called for her to change races, and Gov. George Pataki, who had endorsed Pirro when she entered the race in August.

Pataki's endorsement caused Pirro's main rival for the Republican nomination, Ed Cox, 58, son-in-law of former President Nixon, to suspend his campaign. Cox has been considering a return to the race.

Pirro, 54, is in her third elected term as district attorney in affluent Westchester County, north of New York City.

When she announced that she would not seek a fourth term, she said she would run for statewide office -- either for governor, to succeed Pataki, who is stepping down after three terms, or attorney general, to succeed Eliot Spitzer, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, or for U.S. Senate against Clinton.

When Pirro launched the Senate bid against the Democrat, her announcement speech was marred by an embarrassing 30-second silence after she lost a page of her prepared remarks. Then her fund-raising got off to a slow start, raising less than $500,000 in her first month.

A majority of 62 Republican county chairs meeting last week in Albany announced their belief that Pirro should quit the Senate race but did not agree on a substitute candidate.

Posted by crimnos @ 3:11 PM