Paladino and Conservative Party Chair Mike Long put aside their differences, and cleared the way for Paladino to appear on the Conservative Party line on the November ballot.
Long, who had called Paladino a “dangerous candidate”, says he still believes that, but in a different way.
“He’s dangerous,” said Long. “To the liberals in this state.”
Long and Paladino had a long talk over the weekend, and Paladino, who’s advocating tax cuts and spending cuts, says he and the Conservative Party have a lot in common, and a common goal; to prevent Cuomo from winning the election.
“It has a lot to do with the people versus the establishment,” said Paladino. “They want the ruling class in Albany... they want them out.”
Initially, the Conservative Party had backed Rick Lazio. After Lazio lost the GOP primary to Paladino, the former Long Island Congressman withdrew from the conservative line.
Lazio’s exit, and the conservative endorsement for Paladino, fundamentally changes the governor’s race, says pollster Steve Greenberg of Siena College, who says Lazio would have siphoned off votes from Paladino, making it easier for Cuomo to win.
“No Republican has won state wide in 40 years without having the Conservative Party endorsement,” said Greenberg. “It is a really interesting head to head match up now between Cuomo and Paladino.”
Cuomo, who tried to stay above the fray in the days after the primary as Paladino and his camp hurled insults, has begun to take on his Republican opponent, criticizing his proposals to place welfare recipients in training camps in unused prisons, and put children from failing schools in state boarding schools. Cuomo, who received the endorsement of NARAL, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, calls Paladino’s pro-life stance, with no exceptions for rape or incest “frightening”.
“Mr. Paladino’s agenda is an extreme agenda,” said Cuomo. “Voters will now be able to look at that clearly”.
Paladino was scheduled to speak at the annual meeting of some of the state’s top business leaders. Cuomo skipped the Business Council’s meeting, and has chosen not to attend several events that used to be considered mandatory stops on the campaign trail, including a meeting of AP editors and the annual dinner of the gay rights group Empire Pride Agenda.
Cuomo has been increasingly criticized for running a Rose Garden strategy. Ed Cox, chair of the State Republican Party, in the past backed Lazio and another candidate for governor, but says he’s now behind Paladino. Cox, who is former President Nixon’s son in law, offered some free advice to Cuomo, the GOP’s top adversary.
“If you’re in the Rose Garden, and I know well, having been married in the Rose Garden, you’re the incumbent,” said Cox. “And that’s the worst place to be in this year.”
Not all Conservative Party leaders lined up behind Paladino. The vice chair of the party resigned in protest, and there was one dissenter in the nomination vote, along with several abstentions by proxy vote.
GOP candidates for Attorney General, Dan Donovan and Comptroller, Harry Wilson have so far kept their distance from Paladino.