If you listen to the polls, any Republican winning the NY Governor’s chair this year seems pretty much like a pipe dream. In fact, look at them long enough, and you might be tempted to believe New York will remain a very blue state across the board.
On the other hand, New Yorkers are angry. They are frustrated. A majority favors a repeal of the health care bill. A whopping 58% oppose the mosque at Ground Zero. Meanwhile, Andrew Cuomo, favored to win the Gubernatorial election, supports building the mosque and, though he pays lip service to shrinking the size of the State government, remains firmly encamped in a party known for exponential government growth.
For a GOP win in this election, the candidate must be willing and able to go toe-to-toe with the Dem candidate, to take the message to the people of New York, and show that, what is needed for growth in New York, is a regime change — not merely a trade from one Democrat party stooge to the next.
For a few reasons, which I will outline below, I believe the person most capable of that job — and of the job of governing the State of New York — is Carl Paladino. Now, I have to admit before going any further, that there are several less-than-intellectual reasons for this choice. First, Paladino reminds me in many ways of my favorite for the role: Rudy Giuliani. Since Rudy has gone and refused to enter the fray (for which I may never forgive him), I find some comfort in a candidate with a similar take-no-prisoners attitude. Second, I have not yet cleared my pallet of the bile left over from Rick Lazio’s spectacular defeat, clutched at the last second from the jaws of victory, against Senate rival Hillary Clinton. There are more… I’ll get to them as we go along.
But let’s use Lazio’s loss to Hillary Clinton as a jumping off point. During the campaigns for NY’s junior Senate seat, Lazio was actually beating Clinton. And then came the debate. The debate where Lazio didn’t so much debate Clinton as browbeat. The debate where Lazio came off looking like such a jerk that people actually pitied Clinton. Enough to pull the (D) lever, in fact. This points to two major problems in Lazio as a candidate: First, when you hate him, you really hate him. And second, the guy can’t debate. He’s got all the debating skill of Sean Hannity, which is to say: he pretty much relies on his ability to just talk louder than the other guy. And unless he’s got his hand on the volume control, I honestly don’t see that happening in a debate with Cuomo. Or, for that matter, with the folks he’ll be in charge of keeping in check at the State House.
Basically, when I’m looking for somebody to run New York, I’m looking for a guy who eats bull___t and craps truth to power. I see that quality in Paladino. Carl is a fighter — and not a clean-cut high school wrestler. Paladino is a bare-knuckle, back-alley brawler. The kind of guy I feel I can trust to throw down for his constituents and have the muscle to back it up. Maybe you want a guy who’s a little more reserved in, say, California. But this is New York, where even the products of the PS Candyass districts in NYC bleed attitude from their eyeballs. Albany is corrupt, and the corrupt separate easily from neither power nor money. Albany needs a leader with the will and fortitude to stand up to the Legislature and demand they do the jobs for which they were elected.
Which brings us to my next reason to support Paladino. I know where he stands. I know what he’s about. His positions may or may not be the most popular, depending upon where in New York you happen to be voting, but he’s clear and he’s unapologetic. It helps immensely that I happen to agree with him on many of his stances — even those deemed “controversial.” Lazio, by contrast, doesn’t even have an issues page on his website. The only issues Rick will openly discuss are the NYC mosque, the jobless rate, the mosque, general disparagements against Harry Reid (not sure what THAT has to do with anything) and Cuomo (largely about the mosque), and the mosque.
Now, you may have noticed, I’ve spend nearly as much time disparaging Lazio as I have praising Paladino. It’s true, and I’m a little saddened by this: In general, I don’t like trashing primary opponents — there’s always the chance, after all, that we’ll still need them (see McCain 2008). However, as much as I like Paladino — and, faults and all, I really do — it was Lazio himself who pushed me over the threshold. It was the State GOP — the same folks responsible for Dede Scozzafava for Congress (you remember her, right?) — and their anointing Rick Lazio as GOP candidate. It was Rick denying the voters’ right to choose their candidate when he accepted the anointing. It’s the sense of entitlement with which he approaches the campaign and won’t deign to show voters who he is and for what he stands. In short, Lazio is a guy who’ll get his butt handed to him in November, and will deserve it.
Paladino may well lose to Cuomo — this is still New York — but it won’t be because the voters didn’t know him, and it won’t be because he wasn’t swinging all the way down.