New York.- Greek American Queens assemblyman, and a rising star in the New York State politics, Michael Gianaris, announced last week his decision to withdraw from the democratic race for attorney general. His decision comes a week before the expected announcement by former Clinton’s secretary of Housing, Andrew Cuomo.
Michael N. Gianaris said he reached the decision to withdraw in the last few weeks because the race for the party’s primary was likely to be a hotly competitive and divisive battle.
Speaking to the Greek News, Michael Gianaris said that before reaching his decision, he has consulted prominent members of the Democratic leadership, as well as his Greek American supporters, who backed him up on his decision.
Mr. Gianaris was quoted by the New York Times saying that his withdrawal was intended to help unify the party.
“It was becoming clearer and clearer that this would become a race where the way to succeed would be to tear down some of the other candidates,” he said in an interview. “I wasn’t willing to be a part of that. I want to work to bring together a united Democratic ticket.”
In addition to Andrew Cuomo, Mark Green – who lost the race for New York City’s mayor in 2001 from Michael Bloomberg – several other candidates have indicated their intention to run. Amongst them, Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky of Westchester County; Sean P. Maloney, a former aide to President Bill Clinton; Charlie King, the head of a nonprofit group that provides housing for the homeless; and Denise O’Donnell, a former United States attorney for the Western District of New York.
New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, is running for governor against Janine Pirro.
Michael Gianaris, 35, began campaigning for attorney general in 2003 and demonstrated early strength in fund-raising. And he raised money throughout the country. In particular, Mr. Gianaris’s campaign generated excitement in Greek-American communities, which translated into enormous amounts of cash. Several prominent Greek Americans, amongst them Senator Paul Sarbanes, former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis and other had thrown their support to him. To the surprise of many in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised approximately 100,000 dollars for Gianaris, with whom he travel twice in Greece, on his private jet.
Gianaris raised more than $2 million. New York Times points out that in recent months, he was eclipsed in fund-raising by Mr. Cuomo, who added an additional $1 million to his campaign at a fund-raising dinner on Tuesday, when he celebrated his 48th birthday. With that event, Mr. Cuomo has raised more than $4 million, including about $1 million that was transferred from his 2002 campaign for governor. And Mr. Green reported in July that he had raised $1.5 million.
Mr. Gianaris said that he spent $400,000 on his campaign and that the more than $1.6 million left would remain in an account that he could use should he decide to run again for higher office.
“I don’t have anything specific in mind,” he said. “But I expect to be a candidate for citywide or statewide office in the future.”
State Democratic sources said that Gianaris strong fundraising, along with his political maturity elevated his status within the Democratic Party and he is now considered as one of the party’s rising stars on a state level.