msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/2/2010 8:42:08 PM ET 2010-03-03T01:42:08

Real estate tycoon and newspaper publisher Mortimer Zuckerman said Tuesday that he will not enter the race for one of New York's Senate seats.

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Zuckerman, who is the chairman and publisher of the New York Daily News, cited his young family — as well as his position as CEO of a real estate company — as reasons for his decision.

"At this time, it is very difficult to see how I can devote the necessary time to either a campaign, or to working in Washington, if I were to win," Zuckerman said, according to the newspaper he owns.

In recent weeks, he had explored the idea of running this year, discussing it with another wealthy businessman-turned-politician, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Harold Ford, a former Tennessee congressman, announced Monday night he had decided not to run, saying he did not want to weaken the Democratic party with a bitter primary challenge to New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

"It would have been a close, tough, tough fight," Ford said Tuesday. "The last thing I wanted to see was for this seat to go Republican."

The only declared Republican in the race is little-known attorney Bruce Blakeman, who has said "I'm not a wealthy man" and estimates he would need to raise $15 million to $20 million to run a credible campaign.

Republican leaders would have been likely to accept Zuckerman, who has a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $1.5 billion, as an attractive possibility because he would have been able to pay for his own campaign.

Bloomberg and Zuckerman recently talked about the possibility of the 72-year-old publisher mounting a GOP campaign this year, according to two people familiar with the conversation. Zuckerman is not registered with any party but would run on the Republican line.

Like Bloomberg, who stepped down from his financial information company to run for mayor in 2001, Zuckerman likely would have to leave his media positions if he were to run. Zuckerman also is editor of U.S. News & World Report.

His real estate investments also could complicate a political campaign; his company, Boston Properties, is publicly traded. Among its properties is Manhattan's landmark General Motors building, which the company and its investment partners bought last year for a reported $2.8 billion, the highest price ever paid for a building.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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