Erie County Executive Chris Collins (R)
BUFFALO, NY -- In two of the clearest signals yet that he plans to run for Governor of New York in 2010, Erie County Executive Chris Collins slammed his potential Republican primary opponent, while also confirming that he has hired a New York City communications firm tied to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
During a public event Thursday morning in Buffalo, Collins acknowledged hiring the communications firm NLO Strategies, which is run by former Giuliani aides.
"That would give us access to, and someone to deal with the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New York Post, the various bloggers," Collins said of the firm. "Two thirds of the state's population is in the New York City area between the five boroughs and the surrounding counties, so it's a natural step that we need to take over the next six weeks as we make a decision that's going to have a large impact."
Collins said he'll announce his intentions in late January. Previously, he said he would back Giuliani for governor; however, Giuliani reportedly will not run.
"The fact is, Rudy Giuliani is not running for governor, and so I've been encouraged by many to consider that myself," Collins said.
When asked about his possible primary opponent, Former U.S. Congressman Rick Lazio, Collins sounded like a candidate who has made up his mind to run.
REPORTER: There is another Republican in that race, Rick Lazio, who said this week that he's hoping you'd join his effort to become governor.
COLLINS: That would never happen. Rick, really, is part of the status quo, and I am clearly running, like I did in Erie County, against the status quo. Rick is solidly entrenched with the status quo, and we need a chief executive as we move forward.
When asked about Lazio's endorsements from party leaders in Niagara and Monroe Counties, Collins suggest Lazio lacks any widespread support.
"Rick's been the announced candidate for five months, and he's got five counties," Collins said. "We clearly think the support is there, and we're just going to confirm that between now and the end of January."