Former Independence Party member and Staten Island gadfly Frank Morano claims he has made some headway in his long-shot campaign to draft retired Paychex CEO and ex-New York resident Tom Golisano to run for president as a (small i) independent.


Morano, who first started pitching on Golisano’s behalf in February, sent out the email that appears here last week.

Oddly, it forwarded to me by GOP consultant Roger Stone, who has a Golisano connection – he worked on the billionaire’s third and final gubernatorial bid in 2002 – but is backing his own independent White House contender, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Morano followed that up with another email this past weekend that touted the efforts of Americans Elect – the organization that is petitioning to secure ballot access in as many states as possible for a yet-to-be-named independent presidential candidate who will be chosen in an on-line caucus process.

“It seems as if people are either suffering from Obamney fatigue or they or just bored to tears with the existing candidates,” Morano wrote. “Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.”

“There will be another choice. Americans Elect is currently in the midst of an online Presidential primary, in which ANY voter regardless of party can vote. If you haven’t done so already, you can become a delegate and cast your vote for anyone you like at”

“My choice for President is Tom Golisano. I think his business experience, sensible centrist positions, philanthropic history and compelling personal biography make him the ideal candidate to go toe to toe with The President and the eventual GOP nominee in November, but to do so I need your help and we’re running out of time.”

“We have only 29 days left to qualify Golisano for the next round, that’s why I’m asking you to add your support for Tom Golisano today. You can do so by going to, filling out your information to become a delegate and adding your support. I’m asking you to do this as a personal favor to me, even if you don’t ultimately vote for Golisano in the general election. Why not give the voters a real third choice?”

Morano added that he had received some “very exciting news about Tom Golisano and the Americans Elect process” that would become public in the coming days. When I emailed to ask what that might be, he responded:

“Officials at Americans Elect tell me that Mr. Golisano has had a presentation and is strongly considering running. They briefed him at his home outside Rochester and he is giving it serious thought. I think this is an incredibly positive development and could provide the game changing shot in the arm that the 2012 race is ready for.”

I asked Americans Elect spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel about this, and she replied:

“All candidate briefings are confidential as far as Americans Elect is concerned. The purpose of the confidentiality of the briefing meetings is to protect the interests of those being briefed. Those candidates who have been briefed of course may share any details of the briefings with whomever they choose.”

“Consistent with the rules and protocols for our candidate briefing program, we are happy to brief any automatically qualified candidate wishing to learn about AE.”

I left multiple messages – email and voicemail – with Laureen Oliver, who has worked with Golisano for years and often serves as his point of contact/spokeswoman. So far, she hasn’t gotten back to me.

Morano’s efforts on Golisano’s behalf haven’t borne too much fruit as yet. He has 21 supporters on the “draft” portion of the Americans Elect website. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, by contrast, has 133 supporters – and he’s not expected to throw his hat into the presidential wing until 2016 at the earliest (also, he’ll most likely run as a Democrat).

One wrinkle in Morano’s claim that Golisano was briefed in New York: He hasn’t lived here for several years now after relocating to Florida to reduce his property tax bill. Also, his home outside Rochester recently sold for $1.35 million.

Golisano ran three unsuccessful self-funded campaigns for governor in 1994, 1998 and 2002. Although he failed to even come close to winning, his spending did establish the Independence Party, which has seen its fortunes drop somewhat – at least when it comes to ballot position – since Golisano is no longer its standard bearer.

Even with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on their line in 2010, the Indys dropped from Row C (now the home of the Conservative Party, which saw its position rise thanks to Carl Paladino) to Row E. Row D is now occupied by the Working Families Party, which also cross-endorsed Cuomo in the last election.

Golisano mulled a fourth gubernatorial run in 2006 and even switched his party enrollment to the GOP as he considered a challenge to Democratic AG Eliot Spitzer. (The two of them never got along terribly well). He ultimately decided not to run, but did keep his hand in New York politics, playing a key role in the 2009 Senate coup.