Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Cellucci for Sen.? Count him out: Ambassador to step down

By David R. GuarinoRead Guarino's

Friday, July 16, 2004

Former Gov. Paul Cellucci plans to step down as U.S. ambassador to Canada early next year, prompting speculation he'll run for Senate if John F. Kerry [related, bio] wins the White House.

     But area Republicans, who have been quietly informed of the decision in telephone calls from Cellucci in recent days, said he's adamant about not running for office anytime in the near future.

     ``He doesn't have any definite plans, but he's ruled out running for U.S. Senate, though there's been a lot of gossip about him being interested,'' a longtime friend told the Herald.

     Still, other Republicans said the pressure would be intense on Cellucci if Kerry wins the presidency - since the balance of power in the Senate may be up for grabs.

     A June Boston Herald poll showed Cellucci ranked low among potential Republican candidates for the Senate seat - with Gov. Mitt Romney [related, bio] picked as the best candidate by 24 percent of voters, former Gov. William F. Weld picked by 21 percent, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey by 6 percent and both Cellucci and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card by only 4 percent.

     Allies said Cellucci won't officially resign until January or February. They said the 56-year-old former governor intends to return to his home in Hudson.

     While Cellucci won't entertain jobs until after he's left the ambassador's residence in Ottawa, he'll be in high demand in the lucrative Canadian-U.S. trade industry.

     A longtime personal friend of President Bush [related, bio], Cellucci resigned in April 2001 to take the post.

     Cellucci quickly became a source of controversy there, chiding Canadians for their lax national defense after 9/11.

     Indeed, a columnist for an Ottawa newspaper recently dubbed Cellucci ``the most combative ambassador that's ever been sent north of the border.''

     Still, friends said he always intended to serve only one term - and note he's already lasted more than the usual 18-month stint of most ambassadors.

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