Carl Paladino, a developer and Tea Party supporter, won the Republican nomination for New York governor and will face Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, in November’s general election.
Paladino, 64, overcame an early 27 percentage-point lead by Rick Lazio using more than $3 million of his own money and an anti-tax “I’m Mad As Hell” message. Lazio, 52, a former Long Island congressman and managing director at JPMorgan Chase & Co., was chosen by Republican Party leaders in June, while Paladino submitted voter petitions to appear on the ballot.
Paladino won by 62 percent to 38 percent for Lazio, with 97 percent of precincts counted, according to the Associated Press.
Cuomo, 52, son of a former governor, is favored to win in November, voter surveys show. Like Paladino, he promises to curb New York’s spending habits that have resulted in the second- highest combined state and local tax burden in the U.S., trailing only Alaska.
“By coming out and saying the state has to cut spending, Cuomo has in many ways stolen the thunder from Republicans,” Jeffrey Stonecash, a professor of politics at Syracuse University, said before yesterday’s vote.
New York joined four other states in selecting candidates for governor yesterday, marking the end of most intraparty campaigns before November’s general elections, when 37 governors will be chosen. Hawaii holds its primary Sept. 18.
Former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich won the Republican nomination to run for the office again. He’ll face incumbent Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who unseated him four years ago. In New Hampshire, Democratic Governor John Lynch will face Republican John Stephen in November.
Rhode Island Republican John Robitaille will go up against state Treasurer Frank Caprio, a Democrat. In Wisconsin, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, will take on Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, a Republican.
In a victory speech last night, Paladino attacked Cuomo for his long history in Albany politics, as campaign manager for his father, Mario Cuomo, and later as attorney general.
“Andrew Cuomo thinks he can now mouth the words of reform and we’ll believe him,” Paladino said. “All Andrew offers us is the status Cuomo.”
Lazio, who is on the November ballot as the Conservative Party’s candidate, may draw voters in November who might otherwise back the Republican. In conceding, Lazio said he “will not rest” as his campaign continues. The Conservative Party would lose its spot on the ballot in the next governor’s election if it doesn’t collect at least 50,000 votes Nov. 2.
While Cuomo’s and Paladino’s stated aims are similar, they differ on how to achieve them.
Cuomo has said he is seeking a coalition with lawmakers and unions to support his plan to freeze taxes and government wages, and to limit growth of state spending to the rate of inflation.
Paladino said he would shut down government if lawmakers balk at his plans to cut spending by 20 percent and taxes by 10 percent in his first year.
To bring down New York’s tax burden, Cuomo proposes to cap increases in property levies. Paladino’s plan would reduce them by slashing $10 billion from the state’s spending on the Medicaid health care program for the poor, the cost of which is shared with counties.
New York faces an $8.2 billion gap in next year’s budget as spending plans continue to grow while the state loses about $4.6 billion from the expiring federal stimulus aid program, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said this month in a report.
This year’s $133.8 billion budget, which closed a $9.2 billion gap, was finished four months after the fiscal year began April 1, as lawmakers abandoned their plans for increased borrowing and smaller cuts in aid to local school districts.
“After months of budget dysfunction and delay, New York is still on the edge of a very steep financial cliff,” DiNapoli said in a statement Sept. 9.
This year’s financial plan relies on $16.7 billion of funds that will be collected only once or are scheduled to expire in the next few years, led by $5.77 billion from personal income tax rates that decline after the end of 2011, the report said.
The state’s debt ratings were unchanged during the budget battle, with Standard & Poor’s maintaining its highest AAA grade for personal-income-tax bonds and AA, the third-highest level, for general-obligation securities.
‘Fed Up’ Voters
“People are fed up, they want the cost of government lowered,” said John Faso, the Republican candidate for governor in 2006 and now an Albany-based partner at the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. “That’s what upstate voters are saying,” he said, referring to Paladino’s wide margin of victory in areas to the north and west of New York City.
Earlier this year, Paladino had to contend with reports by a blog run by WNY Media Network that he sent offensive e-mails to friends and associates. In April, the website published messages that included an image of an African tribal dance titled “Obama Inauguration Rehearsal,” a picture depicting the president and first lady Michelle Obama as a pimp and a prostitute and sexually explicit images.
“I confess to being human and imperfect, as are all of God’s children,” Paladino later said while campaigning in Buffalo. His campaign manager, Michael Caputo, told the New York Times in April that the e-mails were probably “a smear campaign authorized by Democrats.”
--With assistance from Henry Goldman in New York City. Editors: Stephen Merelman, Ted Bunker.
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