ALBANY – Joseph Holland, a Republican who served as co-chairman of former Gov. George Pataki’s successful 1994 campaign, says he is formally running for governor.
Holland made his intentions clear in an email to Republican county chairmen late Tuesday night.
With the subject line “Running For Governor,” Holland said in the email obtained by the Daily News early Wednesday that “I am writing just to remove any doubt or uncertainty as to the fact of my candidacy.
“I will be formally announcing my candidacy in newsworthy fashion (details soon forthcoming) before the end of the month,” Holland said.
He then provided a lengthy list of the campaign appearances he has made in recent days or has scheduled in the weeks to come.
The little-known Holland, a Harvard Law School graduate, author and Pataki’s first housing commissioner, had originally considered a race against Democrat U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand before changing his mind and deciding to seek the GOP nomination for governor. He appeared at a GOP candidate’s debate this past Saturday in Buffalo.
He concluded his email to the county Republican chairmen by saying that “I look forward to interacting with all of you, either in person or over the phone. On to victory.”
Holland, who is African-American and an ordained minister in Harlem, is one of three declared candidates and is said to be the favorite of county chairmen in the Hudson Valley.
State Senate Deputy Majority John DeFrancisco is seen as the front-runner even as a number of Republicans are still trying to court other potential candidates.
Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra also has announced his candidacy, though he has little stated support among Republicans and Conservatives, who cite his past support of Gov. Cuomo, Hillary Clinton and Mayor de Blasio.
Holland said he has not been active in politics in a number of years. But in the 1980s he served as chief counsel for the state Senate Housing Committee before heading up Pataki’s first gubernatorial campaign and becoming his housing commissioner.
When the Daily News in early January reported he was considering a run against Gillibrand, Holland said “I used to be quite active in politics.”
“As I looked at the environment at this point, I got motivated that it was time for me to get back engaged with the goal of bringing some new ideas and new direction to the political discourse,” he said.
DeFrancisco in recent days has been announcing endorsements, including from Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County), the state’s most powerful Republican.
Flanagan’s endorsement is expected to soon be followed up by one from his home Suffolk County chairman, John LaValle. As one of the state’s largest counties, Suffolk represents about 10% of the weighted vote at the May state Republican nominating committee.