Strong TEA or Weak GOP? What Paladino Means

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Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country we bring you the unmissable quotes from political conversations on WNYC. On the Brian Lehrer Show today, Lee Miringoff , director of the Marist college poll and Liz Benjamin, host of Capital Tonight, blogger, and Daily News columnist discussed how the New York State Republican party is handling its new gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino.

Brian Lehrer introduced the segment like this - "Andrew Cuomo is ignoring him. Al D'Amato is denouncing him. George Pataki, who he called a degenerate idiot, is probably endorsing him, Rick Lazio is deciding whether to run against him and Dan Donovan is asking, Carl who?"

The party backed former Long Island congressman and Wall Street executive Rick Lazio, whom Paladino trounced in Tuesday's primary.  Paladino benefited from a weak state GOP, Miringoff said.

Right now Republican candidates up and down the ballot are trying to figure out what to do with Carl Paladino. You know, how many pictures do you want taken with him and how close? So I think it's a real problem. A lot of what went on Tuesday on the primary night had to do with the disorganization of the Republican party. It obviously had to do with the Tea Party movement, but don't overlook the fact that if you got the support of the state Republican party at their state convention in June in New York City, you went home a loser on Tuesday.

The wealthy Buffalo real estate developer is attractive to voters who are upset with corrupt and dysfunctional Albany politics, Benjamin said.

Carl Paladino is giving voice to how much people in New York, particularly upstate, just feel like Albany just cannot, absolutely, represent their interests.


Former State Comptroller Carl McCall, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch and former U.S. Senator Al D'Amato released a statemnt denouncing Paladino, Benjamin said. But their statement just underscores Paladino's appeal, Benjamin said. Far from unbiased statesmen, each would benefit from the election of Paladino's opponent Andrew Cuomo.

Every one of those guys stands to gain something. Nobody here is lily white from a political standpoint. And I think that Carl Paladino, while he might be controversial, inappropriate and downright racist at times, has a lot to say about that sort of thing.


But regardless of Tea Party strength across the country, the movement will face a tough election for statewide races in New York State, since registered Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one, Miringoff said.

Things going on elsewhere do affect voters here in New York. It's just that Democratics have a lot of points to give in New York, moreso than they have elsewhwere. So yes, there is Tea Party activity in New York. It will show up in November, but the Democratic advantages far outweigh, it looks like at this point certainly, any impact the Tea Party would have at the statewide level.


Listen to the entire interview on The Brian Lehrer Show.