Republican Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef is poised to announce his bid for the state Senate seat expected to be vacated by ailing veteran incumbent Tom Morahan, who has been battling Leukemia and is expected not to seek re-election this fall, a Hudson Valley GOP source confirmed.


The five-term incumbent won’t mount a primary challenge against Morahan, who has insisted his illness won’t prevent him from running, but insiders – including retiring Sen. Dale Volker – have suggested their colleague’s health concerns might ultimately trump his desire to stay in office.

Vanderhoef, who was gubernatorial candidate John Faso’s running mate in 2006, had been eyeing a potential challenge to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, but took a pass on that race, citing her massive fundraising edge as a key motivating factor behind his decision.

He was also mentioned as a possible GOP state comptroller candidate – a post he first mulled in 2006 before joining Faso’s team – but party support has been coalescing behind former hedge fund manager and Westchester County resident Harry Wilson.

Several names have been mentioned as potential Democratic candidates for Morahan’s seat, including Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski Jr., whose late father ran unsuccessfully against Morahan in 1999 (a race that contributed to the repeal of the commuter tax), and Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, who is currently running for LG, but says he won’t primary whomever AG Andrew Cuomo taps as his No. 2 if it isn’t himself.

But some Democrats have pointed to the fact that Morahan was one of two Republicans (along with Sen. George Maziarz) to be given committee chairmanships by Conference Leader John Sampson as a sign that the DSCC doesn’t intend to put up a fight for his seat.

The Senate Republicans, who are already at a fundraising disadvantage since being relegated to the minority in 2008, have been put in the unexpected position of having to spend precious resources to defend open seats – possibly Morahan’s and also the one Sen. Vincent Leibell will vacate to run for Putnam County executive.

The GOP is backing Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy against Assemblyman Greg Ball in a GOP primary for Leibell’s seat.

There’s also the possibility of a third vacancy: Newsday reported last week that Sen. Chuck Fuschillo is being considered for the post of president of the Long Island Association.