Now the field belongs to: Rick Lazio?

Chris Collins not running for governor? I almost fell out of my seat when I heard the news. “Chris C

Chris Collins not running for governor? I almost fell out of my seat when I heard the news. “Chris Collins is not running!” I shouted through the newsroom. “What are we going to do now?”

But no, not really. That Collins, the Erie County executive, had decided not to run for governor of New York was about as earth-shaking as me deciding not to go to the moon this year.

It is generally agreed that the next governor of our fair state will be a person who has yet to announce one way or the other, that is, our attorney general, Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo, a Democrat, is so far ahead in the polls and he’s got so much money on hand that we all know he’s unstoppable. And never mind that other Democrat, David Paterson.

Collins, a Republican, apparently figured he just couldn’t pull it off.

I don’t know if his decision had anything to do with the remark he supposedly made to a woman staffer who was looking for a seat at this year’s State of the State address: “I’m sure if you offer someone a lap dance you’ll find a place to sit.”

He didn’t say one way or the other, but it’s not the sort of remark a candidate would like to be called on to defend in a League of Women Voters’ debate.

In any event, his withdrawal leaves the Republican field to Rick Lazio, the former congressman from Long Island who, when he ran against Hillary Clinton for a Senate seat 10 years ago, made an impression that could only be called delible.

I praised him back then for “a Howdy Doody smile and a nice tan,” after meeting him at the Albany airport, where the main credential he offered a small welcoming crowd was that he was a native-born New Yorker as opposed to a certain lady from Illinois, Arkansas and Washington who in any case only wanted the Senate seat as a “steppingstone.”

Since his drubbing in that race he has prospered as a Wall Street lobbyist, first for a consortium of executives called Financial Services Forum (which paid him $900,000 in 2004, according to tax filings reported in the New York Times) and later for JP Morgan Chase.

Given the popular discontent with Wall Street, I’m not sure that’s a stronger credential than simply being native-born — “Hi, my name’s Rick, and I made a million bucks lobbying for JP Morgan Chase!” — but we’ll have to wait and see. With Rudy Giuliani having backed out, and now this Collins fellow, there doesn’t seem to be anyone else.

Darwin day

For those of you eager to celebrate the birthday of Charles Darwin and get a cooking lesson at the same time, the New York State Museum is setting up a kitchen on the stage of its auditorium this year to illustrate Darwin’s theory of evolution in the most appetizing way possible.

Programs will be held on three consecutive Wednesdays, at 7 p.m., each open to the public free of charge.

This coming Wednesday the focus will be on peppers and their directed evolution toward mildness. Man at the stove will be Stephen Topper of the Copperfield Inn in North Creek.

The following Wednesday, Feb. 10, the presiding chef will be Timothy Warnock of U.S. Foods, and the subject will be sugars.

The final Wednesday, Feb. 17, will feature Tony Destratis of the Lake George, focusing on fowl.

In each case a museum curator will explain the evolutionary features of the food.

If you have any friends who think plants and animals were all created in one week by a supernatural being, leave them at home, as the program could only be upsetting to them.

Categories: Opinion

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