"Mad As Hell" Paladino Joins GOP Race For Governor
If Rick Lazio (next in line to "fix Albany") thought his ascension to the GOP nomination for Governor would be a cakewalk, well, he had another guess (Steve Levy) or two (Carl Paladino) coming.
Oh, Lazio is still the likely nominee, Levy's dramatic switch from lifelong Democrat to the Party of "no", and Paladino's call for a statewide Tea Party party, notwithstanding.
Lazio is, after all, the true, cloth-coat Republican, he of the old school where the mindset remains mired in, "If you don't like the way things are now, let's go back to the way you didn't like things then."
Call Steve Levy an opportunist, as many loyal Republicans do, or a dyed-in-the-wool (there's that Republican cloth coat again) convert to the party of Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, and Steele, he won't survive a primary fight, all the fiscal conservatism in the world aside. [Maybe it's the mustache, not seen in the Governor's office since the days of Thomas Dewey.]
With a stance on immigration that makes Peter King look like an Al Queada-hugging supporter of the Taliban, and the latest tiff over the eruption of street violence in Suffolk County now embroiling the emboldened County Exec, there's a growing sense that you don't have to be bluish (as in incensed Democrat) to loathe Levy.
The real opportunist, truth be told, is Carl "turn Albany upside down to take out the trash" Paladino, who, good mega-landlord that he is, blames someone else for the leaky pipes and crumbling plaster in the apartment building, but offers tenants in residence little more than platitudes when it comes to the fix. And wasn't it Paladino's bucks that helped elect to office many of the folks Carl now looks to trash?"
Carl isn't going anywhere, lest the misguided Tea Party activists, buying into Paladino's tome that more people will die under health care reform than perished on 9/11, alone come out to vote in November, ala Nassau County, regaling the "good old days" which, quite frankly, weren't very good at all.
It's fine to be "mad as hell," particularly at government, which, regardless of party control, has neither been effective nor representative for as far back as most of us can remember. [Here on Long Island, that time span is a week, more or less.]
Still, in the party of the cloth coat, there's only so much wool to be pulled over one's eyes.
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From the Albany Times Union:
Race begins with famous rant
Buffalo developer Carl Paladino banks on 'Network' line in gubernatorial campaign
By JIMMY VIELKIND, Capitol bureau
BUFFALO -- "Look," said Bill Paladino, surveying the marble-clad atrium where his father, Carl, was about to declare his candidacy for governor. "You see business partners, you see family, you see friends, you see working people. They all want change."
Below him, a crowd of hundreds murmured in the historic Ellicott Square Building. People sipped wine as a jazz band played "My Girl" and caterers carved beef onto kimmelweck rolls. A giant orange banner hung from the cast iron ceiling beams blared the theme of the campaign: "I'm mad as hell, Carl."
The hundreds of people gathered Monday night were fed up with Albany, their high taxes, and implacable legislators. They said they were mad as hell, echoing Paladino's theme and the famous rant in the 1976 movie "Network." It was that clip of Peter Finch's deranged TV anchor -- not a friend, not a party leader -- that introduced Paladino, who descended an ornate staircase and declared his intention to replace the "despicable government in Albany."
"Career politicians interested only in their own re-election have systematically destroyed the underpinnings of our economic growth," Paladino said. "Our businesses can't compete. Enough is enough. Are you fed up? Are you mad as hell?"
There was more bluster than platform in the 30-minute speech, which was remarkably soft in intonation considering its content. Paladino said he would declare a fiscal emergency when elected, and would focus on making public education more accountable.
He faces a long road. Wealthy from his role as one of the biggest landlords in Buffalo, Paladino has committed to spend as much as $10 million toward his campaign. He is seeking to petition his way into a Republican primary as well as create a statewide Tea Party; each feat will require him to gather 15,000 signatures from voters around the state.
Republican and Conservative leaders in Erie County are talking him up, but he has little support in other areas of New York. "You can buy a ground operation, but it's very expensive to do that, and you have to be very careful to hire good troops -- because, presumably, other Republicans who are seeking the nomination for governor will be looking for ways to get him off the ballot," said Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for the Siena research Institute.
And there will be plenty of mud for his opponents to sling at him. Paladino acknowledged in recent days fathering a daughter out of wedlock, and has in the past used ethnic slurs in interviews with the press. He has donated nearly $500,000 to politicians of both parties and holds millions in state leases. He has said more people will die from a just-passed federal health reform measure than were killed on 9/11.
"Wealthy, successful businessmen are not used to getting punched," said Erick Mullen, a media consultant who worked on the 2002 campaign of Tom Golisano. "If he can't take a punch and grow a thicker skin, he'll be unable to convince the party elite that he's the one who can carry the flag to victory."
Paladino was unconcerned, and said he was ready for whatever "smear campaign" is coming.
"But when they attack me, they attack you," he said. "If they don't know already, the Albany ruling class will soon learn the strength of our movement, and the remarkable day of reckoning that will come in November."
Jimmy Vielkind can be reached at 454-5081 or by e-mail at email@example.com.