In an unexpected announcement, retiring Congressman Chris Gibson said Monday he will not run for New York governor in 2018. The one definitive plan he mentioned was having accepted a one-term teaching post at Williams College in Massachusetts.
Republican Congressman Chris Gibson of the 19th district earlier this year announced he was setting up an exploratory committee concerning a 2018 run for governor. That announcement came after his decision not to seek a fourth congressional term, which would have been his last, given his self-imposed term limit. On May 2, Gibson, a retired Army colonel who spent 29 years in the military, said in a written statement that he has accepted a position as a visiting lecturer at Williams College and wanted to spend more time with his family, as his three teenagers are in their last years at home. Dr. Chris Mann is assistant professor of government at Skidmore College.
“The cynical view is that Chris Gibson realized it was too much of an uphill fight to unseat Governor Cuomo,” says Mann. “However, as a father myself, I appreciate that Chris Gibson wanted to have more time with his kids before they leave home.”
He says Gibson will have opportunities to re-enter politics if he so chooses, but not to be a dad and that to end his campaign and teach makes a lot of sense. Gibson’s announcement comes after months of increasingly sharp criticism of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Gibson, of Kinderhook in Columbia County, spoke in April on WAMC’s Congressional Corner with Dr. Alan Chartock.
“I tell you, Alan, he’s counting on a 2-to-1 Democratic enrollment advantage in New York to bully us and to intimidate us and say, you have to take it. But, you know what, we don’t have to take it, we really don’t. There’s nearly 20 million people in this state. It’s a good state, great people,” said Gibson. “If we want to change the direction of the state, we can.”
Other Republicans seen as possible contenders include Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who lost to Governor Cuomo in 2014. Astorino was traveling overseas and unavailable for comment Tuesday. Another name is Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, who lost to Cuomo in 2010. He, too, was unavailable for comment. Cuomo has said he does plan to run for a third term.
Justin Crowe recruited Gibson for the February 2017 one-term visiting lecturer post at Williamstown-based Williams College. Crowe is associate professor of political science and chair of the Leadership Studies Program.
“Yeah, this actually came together pretty quickly. I reached out to his office, I don’t know, sometime probably in March of April,” says Crowe. “His office said that he was interested. He and I corresponded and spoke on the phone about it, and he was definitely was gung-ho.”
Crowe talks about the course.
“He’s going to be teaching one course for us in the spring of 2017 which will be on topics of leadership — I think he’s going to call it “Transformational Leadership” — and we’re really excited to have him,” Crowe says. “Between his service in the military and now in Congress, Chris obviously brings a unique, practical, hands-on perspective to the questions of leadership that are at the heart of our program in Leadership Studies. I know he loved his time teaching at West Point and he’s excited to get back into the classroom and, for our part, I just think that his accomplished background in public affairs will be a wonderful resource to our students and a terrific asset for our community.”
And here’s Skidmore’s Mann about the Williams position.
“With a Ph.D. from Cornell and experience teaching at West Point, not to mention his military and political career,” Mann says. “If I had known he was looking for an academic job, I would have recruited him to teach at Skidmore.”
Crowe says the timing was right for approaching Gibson about teaching.
“We have had for the past several years Jane Swift, who used to be the governor of Massachusetts, teach one course for us in the spring. And Jane was unable to do that next spring and so I was given the go-ahead to find someone else and so I reached out to Congressman Gibson knowing that he had a Ph.D. in government from Cornell and had previously expressed interest in potentially teaching a winter term course, a sort of short course that Williams has that students take pass/fail. I knew he had had interest in the past from conservations he’d had with one of my colleagues,” says Crowe. “And so I reached out to his office knowing that he wasn’t running for Congress again in 2016, knowing that he’d be theoretically unemployed in the spring of 2017 and thought, he’s nearby, he’s someone who has a unique perspective, as I said, from both the military and Congress.”
Gibson, who did not reply to a request for comment, says he will close his exploratory committee in the near term and refund the contributions he has received.