Carl Paladino went on offense immediately after the AP declared him winner of the GOP gubernatorial primary in NY. He asked his happy supporters if they wanted real change or “Status Cuomo”
His Democrat opponent, NY Atty Gen Andrew Cuomo is too polished an article to publically acknowlege the jibe but he’s too smart not to know he’ll hear it from now until Nov 2. For it is the status quo that has many in New York fed up. Cuomo will have to be very selective in his attacks on Albany while Paladino tears away layer after layer of the rotten onion. Paladino revels in being an outsider. Cuomo, son of multi-term Gov Mario Cuomo is much less plausible as a Mr Smith type.
Cuomo is running as a reformer, a very polite reformer. Unless Cuomo is willing to play a lot more rough house Paladino will pin him to the bulletin board with “incumbent” scrawled accross his picture. Paladino and Cuomo both know New York State Government is the biggest problem in the state. But Cuomo can’t use terms like “cesspool of corruption” or refer to “the ruleing class” without upsetting the public service unions that support him. Cuomo can’t credibly run against the Albany establishment so he trumpets his record of rooting out private-sector crime. But voters may not like big business, banks and Wall St, but they know it’s state government that hugely taxes them and enforces a tangle of regulation.
Cuomo or more likely his surrogates will surely point to Paladino’s half-billion dollar real estate holdings and note that he receives millions in rent and lease payments from NYS. They will bring up the e-mails which surfaced a few months ago, many of them making crude sexual, racial and ethnic jokes. By doing so, I believe, they will showcase one of Paladino’s great strengths: a very, very thick skin. When the e-mails surfaced he apologized “to anyone who I’ve offended” and simply denied he was a racist or specialized in off-color humor. He also fired back making the point that the e-mails were meant for friends and that such humor is quite common among working stiffs. More to the point he dismissed the attack as a “distraction” from what he and his candidacy is all about.
The New York Times endorsed Rick Lazio and derided Paladino as a buffoon. He is in fact a very serious candidate. The NY GOP wouldn’t let him on the primary ticket forcing him to gain entry by collecting about 30,000 signatures. Now he has badly whipped the party’s choice and the party should be very happy he did.
Lazio probably couldn’t beat Cuomo, but Paladino can. Paladino was down tens of points in the first polls taken a few months ago. He steadily gained ground until he drew even in the last Siena poll released just a few days ago. The actual election was an avalanche.
Andrew Cuomo now faces what Rick Lazio did: a real agent of change with brains, a record of accomplishment and a warrior spirit. The night before the primary Buffalo TV news crews visited a rally. One of the reporters asked Paladino how he could beat Cuomo. The 64 year-old smiled and said, “Watch”