I confess that, being a blowhard from Buffalo myself, I felt a pang of solidarity with Paladino when I read the Daily News snark. But a Tea Partier in a competitive gubernatorial election in New York? You’ve got to be kidding me.“Flame-throwing Republican Carl Paladino is within striking distance of overtaking longtime gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo, a shocking new poll finds.
“Among likely voters, the Democrat Cuomo has a paltry 49% to 43% lead over Paladino, the blowhard Buffalo businessman who won a shocking and decisive victory last week in the GOP primary, the Quinnipiac University poll finds. . . .
“Paladino not only crushes Cuomo among Republicans and those who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement, but he also leads by a 49% to 43% margin among independents - a key voting bloc.
“The tough-talking Paladino also leads among men by a 49-46% margin, Quinnipiac found.
“Nearly 80% of voters say their minds are made up.”
I haven’t forgotten how the Republican wave in 1994 carried the Republican George Pataki to victory in a gubernatorial election over Mario Cuomo when he was a three-term incumbent. But Pataki was a socially liberal upstate Republican, recognizably a political descendant of Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits. And by that time, Mario Cuomo was old news. Paladino looks like something altogether different: a movement conservative politician with a flair for populist theatrics. George Pataki wouldn’t have been caught dead brandishing a baseball bat on the campaign trail to show voters how determined he was to bash heads in Albany.
If Paladino can make a race of it in New York against a highly credentialed and still relatively fresh-faced Democrat like Andrew Cuomo, anything can happen nation-wide in November.