A columnist for the Los Angeles Times indicates former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will likely challenge Hillary Clinton in 2006 for her seat in the U.S. Senate.

Rudy Giuliani

“Two well-placed GOP insiders say it’s ‘basically a done deal,'” writes John Ellis, a partner in a venture capital firm in New York City and first cousin to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “This would be the Super Bowl of Senate races and a dramatic ‘wild card’ lead-in to the 2008 presidential election. Only one of the principals could advance to the next level.”

Giuliani sought to run against Mrs. Clinton in 2000, but withdrew from the race as he underwent a personal battle against prostate cancer.

The former mayor has been silent on any plan for 2006, most recently telling radio host Don Imus on Friday he still had not come to any decision.

In today’s column, Ellis says Giuliani would overcome any reservations held by conservative Republicans for his pro-choice and pro-homosexual stances if he were to oust the former first lady from the Senate:

He would have slain the dragon, and slaying the dragon would bestow upon him exalted status. Major points of difference with the GOP’s core constituencies – like the sanctity of life (abortion) and the evolution of mankind (stem cell research) – would become much less disqualifying.

Red State Republicans – those from the GOP stronghold states – could learn to love Rudy in a New York minute if he beat Hillary.

And make no mistake about it, Giuliani wants them to love him. He wants to play on the national GOP stage. His leadership in the city after the World Trade Center massacre made him a national hero, and he has leveraged that status skillfully these last two years. He has published a best-selling book, established a lucrative consulting practice, built a strong political bridge to the Bush administration and emerged as a huge GOP campaign asset. Indeed, after President Bush, Giuliani was widely seen as the most productive Republican campaigner of the 2002 midterm election cycle.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

Sen. Clinton has repeatedly said she would not run for president in 2004, but some analysts have suggested she would jump into the contest under a “draft Hillary” scenario at the Democratic convention if there’s no clear front-runner for the party.

Others, including WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah, have gone on the record saying Hillary will run regardless of the convention maneuvering only because polls have shown the nomination is hers for the asking.

Ellis writes the looming entry of Giuliani into the 2006 Senate race muddies Hillary’s presidential possibilities, especially if she were to become part of the 2004 ticket for the Democrats.

“A national race might elevate her stature – but being part of a losing ticket can tarnish one’s brand and diminish future prospects,” says Ellis. “She probably will protect her base first and worry about the national pieces later.”

Related column:

Hillary is running

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