Election 2010: Voters Choice
Read what two local Congressional candidates have to say about the issues — and preview three state races that will have an impact on the Valley
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Albany showdown: Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo (above) faces off against renegade Republican (and Tea Party devotee) Carl Paladino on Nov. 2. Paladino pulled off a shocking victory in the Republican primary by defeating the heavily favored Rick Lazio
Andrew Cuomo vs. Carl Paladino
Carl Paladino, a tea-partying, millionaire real estate developer from Buffalo who shocked the political world by thrashing establishment favorite Rick Lazio in the Republican gubernatorial primary, does not mince words. “They say I’m too blunt,” he told supporters after winning the nomination in September. “I am, and I don’t apologize for it.” Paladino has called former governor George Pataki a “degenerate idiot” and said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whom he has compared to Hitler, belongs in prison. Voters may be interested less in his taunts and more in his pledge to cut taxes by 10 percent and spending by 20 percent in his first year in office. That’ll be a tall order to pass through the infamously obstinate Legislature, but Paladino is undeterred. “New York politicians — and the special interests that control them — need to come to terms with the fact that money does not grow on trees,” he says.
Paladino’s Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, has proffered less austere belt-tightening measures, promising to exact a cap on state spending and to freeze taxes and state employees’ salaries. Cuomo locked up the Democrats’ gubernatorial slot the moment David Paterson began floundering. Naturally, voters will compare him to his father, three-term governor Mario.
The more apt comparison, however, may be to onetime rival Eliot Spitzer. Like Spitzer, Cuomo burnished his credentials for the governorship as a Wall Street-bashing attorney general. Like Spitzer, he’s expected to win big. And like Spitzer, he has vowed to change Albany, despite having spent years as part of its establishment. Of course, unlike Spitzer, Cuomo has avoided unsavory client lists. And the “Prince of Darkness,” a nickname Cuomo picked up as his father’s hard-charging campaign manager, has the benefit of learning — if he so chooses — from Spitzer’s and Mario’s mistakes.
Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, says New Yorkers want a governor who will render Albany functional, a priority that seemingly points to a fresh-faced agitator such as Paladino. “Clearly, Paladino’s the outsider,” Miringoff says. “The question is whether he’s outside voters’ range of acceptability.” An early Marist poll showed Cuomo with 52 percent of the vote, Paladino with 33 percent, and Lazio — who scored the Conservative party ballot line, but quickly dropped out of the race — with nine percent. Paladino will grab many of Lazio’s supporters, but he’ll need a sustained momentum push or a major Cuomo gaffe to make up the difference.