George Will

     The survivor of the Spitzer-Suozzi fracas might face Bill Weld, who wants to become the first person since Sam Houston (Tennessee and Texas) to be governor of two states. Weld was governor of Massachusetts for one and a half terms, at which point he resigned, apparently bored and certainly hoping to become ambassador to Mexico, a plan that failed because Jesse Helms, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, did not like Weld's social liberalism any more than New York's Conservative Party is apt to. No Republican has won a statewide race without the Conservative endorsement since 1974.

     Weld, an ebullient campaigner and a proven lightener of government's weight, might be just what this overtaxed state needs. In the last quarter-century, according to a Manhattan Institute study, New York has created new jobs less than half as fast as the rest of the nation. That is understandable, given that New York's state and local tax burden is nearly 20 percent above the national average.

     But Weld must dispel the dark cloud of his association, as investor and $700,000 CEO, with a for-profit college in Louisville that recently collapsed in circumstances that interest federal investigators. Speaking of prosecutions, former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, a Republican product of Nassau County in its flagrantly unreformed days, says he will not support Weld even if he is the GOP nominee, and not just because of ``the multimillion-dollar looting of these poor kids down in Tennessee (sic) who went to this sham college.'' Nearly 20 years ago, Weld was head of the criminal division of the U.S. Justice Department, which prosecuted D'Amato's brother -- but after Weld left the department.

     Some Republicans want to give their gubernatorial nomination to Tom Golisano, a billionaire upstate businessman who, running as an independent, three times lost to Pataki, never winning more than 14 percent of the vote. His virtue, as some Republicans understand that concept, is that he would finance his own trouncing.

     New York's political weight once was such that, in an 80-year span, from  1868 through 1948, New Yorkers appeared on more than half of the two major parties' presidential tickets, and five became president. But New York has lost 16 congressional seats since 1948 and, after the 2010 Census, Florida probably will supplant New York as the third most populous state. Of course New York's junior senator, whose first-announced Republican opponent to her re-election has already withdrawn, plans to be president by then. Excelsior.

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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