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Crazy Carl (Paladino) and His Radical Plan for New York

The Republican in New York’s gubernatorial race speaks out.

12:36 PM, Oct 18, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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“We really want to create jobs, we just don’t want to say we’re creating jobs,” Paladino insisted, claiming that he’s results-oriented. “We don’t want to say, oh, we’ll pay this company so much money for every job they create. How about number one, we figure out how to retain jobs. We lost 274,000 jobs last year in the state of New York. Nevertheless, we hired thousands of people. . . . We’ve got 198,341 people working for the state of New York. They raise our taxes in the last two years [by] $15 billion. 198,341 people and you couldn’t find one to lay off? Not one. Not one. But, no, we want to create jobs. Because jobs is the number one thing for people. For their kids, for their grandchildren, for their neighbors, for their friends, for the people of the state of New York. Cutting spending, cutting taxes is how you get there.”

One example of a myriad Paladino offers is the wine industry in the state of New York: “To grow grapes and make wine in New York you have to have nine separate licenses. The only place on earth that you have such government intrusion in this industry.”

That means less intrusion from an “abusive” and “out-of-control” government. “Government can’t take advantage of the people….government should be for the people,” he says.

Paladino, who ran a very successful real estate development business, seems to sense that he and his foibles have been too much in the spotlight. “This election is about the people," he says. "It’s not about Carl Paladino. It’s not about Andrew Cuomo. It’s about the people. And the frustration of the people with their government.”

In our conversation, Paladino took frequent shots at Obamacare. “There’s another, better way to do this than create another goddamn bureaucracy – excuse my English.”

When one considers Paladino’s chances after the primary election, it’s pretty easy to see that at least at one point in this short campaign, he had a path to victory. The day before the Republican primary, Paladino told me, he was down one point. “I surged from single digits, over a period of two months [and] we won by 26 points.” Turnout in upstate New York was double for this Republican primary than most previous primaries. The polls, Paladino hopes, are not a good gauge of turnout. “The voters will speak on November 2.”

Circumstances gave Paladino a fighting chance, too: New York faces an uncontrollable state capital that has promised public sector unions far more than it would ever be able to deliver. The state’s spending has risen dramatically, and New York taxpayers are having to foot the bill with the highest taxes in the union.

And it’s an anti-incumbent year, and the businessman is running against a life-long politician who is currently his state’s attorney general. Paladino bristles at being described as a politician himself: “Am I a politician? Don’t ever, ever accuse me of that. Don’t say that in your article, please.”

If elected, Paladino promises to be a one-term candidate: “I’m running for four years [as governor]. That’s it. I swore on my children I will not serve a day longer than four years. I’m not looking to uphold an elected office. I’m not looking for a career in politics. Okay? I’m doing this as a service to the people of New York who have been maligned by their government. I’m not your normal, everyday guy.”

All this leads one to think: What if, after Paladino’s surprising upset in the Republican primary over former congressman Rick Lazio, he had run an issue-based, well-disciplined campaign? But that’s precisely what Paladino didn’t do. 

Most experts now rightly consider his chances to be close to nil. His only hope may be for New Yorkers to decide that reputations can be deceiving. Eliot Spitzer was thought to be a reformer who had the potential to one day become president of the United States. But it all busted the day the former prosecutor was found to have been seeing prostitutes on the side even while he was serving as governor. As for Spitzer's successor David Paterson, he was very well liked and respected, but it turned out that he, too, had a women problem and a past drug problem.

What's known about Paladino are his antics. Underneath it all, however, there might be a man who could shake up Albany, possibly the most corrupt state government in the country.

Is Paladino crazy? Probably. Does he have the ability to blow-up? Clearly. Does he still present a better alternative to Cuomo? That’s a decision that New York voters will have to make on November 2.

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