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Challenger to Sen. Clinton Ends Bid

Newsday

Finally bowing to the wishes of powerful state Republican figures, Jeanine Pirro dropped her U.S. Senate campaign Wednesday, saying she would instead run for state attorney general.

Westchester County Dist. Atty. Pirro, whose 12-year tenure ends this year, said she hoped to build on her career as a prosecutor, echoing fellow Republicans who had said she was more suited for that office.

“I have concluded that my head and my heart remain in law enforcement,” she said in a statement, adding that she would make a formal announcement next month.

Also expected to run for attorney general are Democrats Andrew Cuomo, a former gubernatorial candidate and former Housing and Urban Development secretary, and Mark Green, a former New York City mayoral candidate.

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If Republicans choose Pirro to run for attorney general, she will again have to discuss the illegal activities of her husband, Al, who was convicted in 2000 of tax fraud.

Pirro’s decision opened the door for Manhattan lawyer Ed Cox, a son-in-law of former President Nixon, to reenter the Senate race. He withdrew in October after Gov. George E. Pataki endorsed Pirro.

A Cox spokesman would not comment Wednesday on that prospect.

There is now worry in GOP circles that Pirro’s failed effort will make it difficult for another Senate candidate to energize the party’s base and tap donors.

Speculation had been swirling for weeks that Pirro would drop her bid after influential Republicans, including state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, pressured her to abandon her challenge of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Despite leaks from her inner circle that the campaign was sputtering, Pirro attempted to put a good face on it, saying as recently as last week that she was still in the race.


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