Multimillionaire Joins Race for NY Governor


paladinoCarl P. Paladino, a blunt multimillionaire developer with Tea Party political leanings, announced his campaign for New York governor on Monday, becoming the third Republican to enter a race that is quickly becoming a scramble for conservative support.Mr. Paladino, 63, delivered a Palinesque populist message to a boisterous group of about 1,000 flag-waving supporters here, denouncing what he said was the government’s deepening encroachment into the lives of ordinary Americans.

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Mr. Paladino told a roaring crowd that had gathered at the Ellicott Square Building in downtown Buffalo, one of several office complexes in his commercial real estate empire in western New York.

“The government is in shambles, and we’re paying for it in unbearable taxes far, far above the national average,” he added. “Are you mad? Are you gonna take it anymore?”

Mr. Paladino hopes to harness some of the frustration and anger among conservative voters over the leadership – both in Albany and Washington – of the Democratic Party.

“If they don’t know already, the Albany ruling class will soon realize the strength of our movement and the remarkable day of reckoning of New York voters that is coming in November,” Mr. Paladino said. “Get up, and come with me to Albany.”

Though he lacks the institutional support enjoyed by the two other major Republican candidates – Rick A. Lazio, the former congressman, and Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive – Mr. Paladino brings something to the race that neither of the them has: a personal fortune he plans to dip deeply into during the race.

Mr. Paladino, who estimates his net worth to be $150 million, has pledged to spend as much as $10 million of his own money in the campaign. If elected, he has vowed to serve only one term.

Despite his wealth, the path to securing the Republican nomination will not be easy for Mr. Paladino. He has decided to forgo the traditional route of seeking a spot on the ballot at the state’s Republican convention in June. Instead, he will use the petition process, which requires him to collect 15,000 signatures from registered voters in at least 15 of the state’s Congressional districts.

Mr. Paladino, who describes himself as anti-abortion, pro-gun rights and against same-sex marriage, said he was “the only Republican in the race who agrees 100 percent with conservative values.”

But he has to overcome several issues that threaten to undermine his support from the right. Until 2005, he was a registered Democrat. And he has used his fortune over the years to support Democrats who are lightning rods for conservatives, like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Al Gore.

Mr. Paladino has also been forced to acknowledge that he fathered a child in an extramarital affair.

Over the years he has become known as something of a political gadfly in Buffalo. He has eagerly and aggressively opposed policies and people he finds objectionable – like road tolls and politicians he deemed unsupportive of charter schools.

He has always had a knack for being provocative, and shows no signs of toning down his language during the governor’s race.

He calls his campaign – his first run for public office – a “crusade.” He has excoriated state political leaders as “a parasitical ruling class” and pledged to send corrupt legislators to the state prison at Attica.

He has railed against the health care legislation passed last month by Congress as an affront to personal liberty. He urged his followers to sign a letter he wrote to Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor. He called on Mr. Cuomo to file suit against the federal government to block the implementation of the health care measure, which he has deemed “a radical extension of federal power.”

Mr. Paladino used his outspokenness as a selling point on Monday, telling his supporters: “I have a tendency to speak my mind – and in many cases, your mind. I can be blunt, maybe sometimes too blunt. But you’ll always know where I stand.”

At his rally, Mr. Paladino treated his supporters to roast beef sandwiches, beer and wine. Many wore stickers that read “I’m mad as hell too, Carl.” Before the speech, a clip from the movie “Network,” in which the “mad as hell” rant originated, played on two giant screens.

One supporter, Deanna DiGiulio, 46, a restaurant owner from Buffalo, said: “I think we are mad as hell. We don’t have direction. We need a leader. We need a leader for the people. And that leader is Carl.”

Mr. Levy’s campaign responded to Mr. Paladino’s entrance into the race with a blistering statement that cast the Buffalo businessman as a nothing more than a sound bite machine.

“Simply saying ‘I’m mad’ and being a millionaire does not qualify somebody to be governor,” Mr. Levy said. “We need solutions.”

Mr. Lazio’s campaign is ignoring Mr. Paladino for fear of legitimizing him as a candidate. When asked for a response to Mr. Paladino, a spokesman, Barney Keller, declined to comment.

{NY Times/Noam Newscenter}


  1. This guy is nuts!
    He reminds me of A. Leiberman, the extreme, right winged, overly blunt politician in Israel. Too extreme isn’t good either- that means you Bolognadino.