When GOP Rep. Chris Gibson, NY-19, announced last month that he would not run for a fourth term in 2016, many people (myself included) opined that he was setting his eyes on running statewide (probably for governor) in 2018.
Well, he's already begun doing that.
According to a Dan Freedman article published in the Albany Times Union (paywalled, but copy-and-pasteable), Gibson "is deploying a political team throughout New York to work his party's apparatus in the hopes of making the state's hard-blue ground a little more fertile for the GOP."
With no more congressional re-election fundraising obligations, Gibson said he now has some time to "reinvest" in boosting the fortunes of a party that hasn't won a statewide race since Gov. George Pataki was elected to a third term in 2002.
"There will be periodically some visits across the state to help inspire our people," he said.
What's left unsaid, of course, is that if Gibson does indeed choose to run he will have the rudiments of an organization in place to carry his candidacy forward.
At this point, it's a somewhat stealthy guerrilla operation befitting its commander, a retired Army colonel who once led an 82nd Airborne combat brigade. Gibson's press secretary, Matt Sheehey, described the congressman's political team as "current and former campaign staff and supporters around the region" and left it at that.
Nevertheless, "He helps himself and he helps the party at the same time," said Republican State Chairman Ed Cox. "That's ideal.''
Gibson visited Orange County, outside his district, over the weekend to talk up his campaign to revitalize the state GOP, and plans trips to Buffalo and Albany in the near future.
Of course, Gibson will not announce his 2018 candidacy now, but clearly this is the soft-launch designed to garner party and press attention for himself and his ideas.