Economist David Malpass, an economist who has never held public office, announced Wednesday he would seek the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, saying she was an "unelected occupant" of the seat who had failed to protect the state's taxpayers.
"She's chosen at every step to spend to spend New Yorkers' hard-earned taxes without setting any limits or boundaries," Malpass said, referring to Gillibrand's vote in favor of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and the $787 billion stimulus plan enacted last year.
Malpass, a former treasury official under President Ronald Reagan, made the announcement on the steps of City Hall with Steve Forbes, the multimillionaire publisher and former GOP presidential candidate, at his side. Forbes said Malpass was well versed in areas of economic policy that most Washington politicians consider boring.
"If he had been in charge, we wouldn't have had this financial crisis," Forbes said.
Gillibrand, a former U.S. House member from upstate New York, was appointed by Gov. David Paterson to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate seat last year after Obama named Clinton to be secretary of state. Since then, Gillibrand has run an aggressive campaign to win the seat in a special election this fall despite polling showing she is not well known to voters and could be vulnerable to a challenge.
So far, the collection of Republicans vying to compete against her is fairly thin. Malpass, a political newcomer largely unknown to the state's voters, joins former Rep. Joe DioGuardi and former Long Island lawmaker Bruce Blakeman in the field. The primary is Sept. 14.
Several better-known Republicans have decided to skip the race, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki, who announced this week he would not be a candidate.
Gillibrand also escaped a potential primary challenge when former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford, now a New York City investment executive, actively explored a bid but ultimately decided not to get in the race.
Malpass advised Giuliani during his 2008 presidential campaign. He told reporters he has about $1 million in the bank and would have sufficient resources to compete against Gillibrand. A tenacious fundraiser, she had more than $5 million in the bank as the end of 2009.