Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb is among Republican leaders touring upstate today and tomorrow meeting with local Republican officials to discuss their slate and agenda for 2010.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, a Democrat, is doing the same, heading to Syracuse and Watertown today and Rochester tomorrow as he talks to county GOP chairmen about a potential run on their line as a Democrat.
But Kolb, R-Canandaigua, Ontario County, said the party has plenty of people to choose from before they start looking at Levy, who in 2007 ran unopposed as county executive and was cross endorsed by Republicans.
“Quite frankly, my reaction is I think we have a lot of good Republicans that have worked in the trenches for years in both the Senate and the Assembly and county executives, which I think we should really focus on first,” Kolb said.
“Regardless of whether Steve Levy has been a successful county exec, he’s also had a past pattern of trying to unelect Republicans. So think that’s going to be a real obstacle for him to overcome.”
Updated: One of those good Republicans for statewide office may be Kolb himself. He confirmed this afternoon that he’s been approached by some Republican leaders to consider running for U.S. Senate against Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.
Kolb, who has flirted with running for the U.S. House before, said he will consider it.
“People are just talking to me and encouraging me to really seriously consider it,” he said this afternoon.
Kolb’s comments come as state Republicans appear to be coalescing around Rick Lazio as its candidate for governor. He’s received more than 40 percent of the weighted vote to win the GOP nomination at its convention this spring, and with Erie County Executive Chris Collins out of the race, Lazio is the only announced candidate.
State GOP chairman Ed Cox said this morning that the party will rally around Lazio, but stopped short of officially endorsing him.
“Rick is at the moment the only candidate out there, he’s done a great job presenting our issues and we’re going to be working with him so that he can raise the resources he needs to be effective as a candidate and to win the governorship,” Cox said.
Despite not having a full slate yet, Republicans are feeling good about their chances in this November elections after Republicans in New York and the nation have fared well in recent elections.
Cox, Kolb and Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos are in Albany, Watertown and Syracuse today and Rochester tomorrow meeting with GOP officials.
The good mood prompted Skelos to predict that Republicans could win five state Senate seats in November, more than enough to win back the majority it lost in 2008.
“We’re going to beat Craig Johnson. We’re going to beat Brian Foley. We’re going to beat Andrea Stewart-Cousins. We’re going to beat David Valesky. We’re going to beat Darrell Aubertine and we’re going to beat Bill Stachowski.
“I think we also have opportunities against Suzi Oppenheimer and others. We are going to run a complete slate of quality candidates against all the Democrats, including in New York City.”
Here’s Cox talking about Lazio’s candidacy.