Marc Cenedella, momentary Great Hope of the New York G.O.P., declines to challenge Gillibrand

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Marc Cenedella promotes his book. (theladders.com, via flickr)
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Marc Cenedella, who appeared this year to be laying the groundwork for a challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, issued a statement this afternoon calling it off.

"I will not be running for the United States Senate in 2012," he said in the statement. "I have given a run careful consideration, and I believe Senator Gillibrand is beatable. Her early and unfounded attacks on me, her weak poll numbers, and her lethargic quarterly fundraising results all point to a politician in trouble — and encourage me to challenge her."

Cenedella intrigued Republican leaders as a job-search entrepreneur who was willing to self-fund a substantial portion of the race, and he had already signed on veteran operatives E. O'Brien Murray and Bill O'Reilly to help him explore the race. But his introduction to voters was marred last week by a New York Times story quoting from racy blog posts that appeared under his name several years ago.

Cenedella, who never officially declared as a candidate, pushed back aggressively against the story, but ultimately decided not to pursue the race, citing the possibility of a June primary.

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"[R]unning for the Senate this year, under this accelerated election calendar, is untenable for me from a business perspective," Cenedella said in the statement. "The calendar is too tight for me to do what I need to do politically and professionally to win this seat in 2012. I promised to make a quick decision on whether to run for the Senate out of respect for the Republican and Conservative Parties and the other candidates pursuing this race, and I fulfill that promise today. I look forward to doing everything in my power to help the candidate ultimately selected defeat Ms. Gillibrand and her errant policies for the sake of economic growth in this state."

Cenedella's exit leaves Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos as the only declared challenger in the race, though attorney Wendy Long, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, also met with Conservative Party leaders yesterday about the possibility of mounting a run. (She is not related to state Conservative Party chair Michael Long.)