Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef has formed an exploratory committee to determine if he will challenge U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the Nov. 2 general election, the Journal News’ Laura Incalcaterra reports.
Vanderhoef has been considering several statewide seats, but recently said he would not run for state comptroller and indicated to county Republican chairmen that would instead be interested in running for U.S. Senate. He’s been making calls to Republican leaders around the state.
Vanderhoef, a Republican, said today that he needed to determine if he had the political backing and the ability to raise significant campaign funds before deciding if he would run.
“I’ve been encouraged to look at this race because a lot of folks consider it winnable,” Vanderhoef said.
Gov. David Paterson appointed Gillibrand last year to fill the seat vacated when Hilliary Rodham Clinton was named U.S. secretary of state.
Gillibrand, a Democrat, hails from upstate Hudson in Columbia County. She was in her second term in the U.S. House of Representatives when named to the Senate.
Another possible contender, former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr., was considering a challenge that could have led to a Democratic primary. But Ford announced Monday that he would not pursue a race.
One major hurdle looming for Vanderhoef is coming up with the millions of dollars it will likely take to run the race.
Federal rules prohibit the Rockland County executive, who was re-elected to his fifth four-year term Nov. 3, from transfering any leftover funds from his local campaign coffers to a Senate campaign fund.
Vanderhoef said if he had the political support behind him, he was sure the financial support would quickly follow.
He also said his desire to explore a possible Senate run did not detract from his county executive duties nor diminish his commitment to serving Rockland.
“This is an opportunity you want to take a look at,” Vanderhoef said.
A number of Republicans are in the mix to run against Gillibrand: former Nassau County legislator Bruce Blakeman, former Westchester Rep. Joseph DioGuardi, Orange County Executive Edward Diana and former Rudy Giuliani aide David Malpass.