If you check old posts, you’ll see that we were saying some unusually affirmative things about Carl Paladino from the start. (See: In Defense of Carl Paladino, April 13)
It’s not that we’re prescient. Even though we were making points in Paladino’s favor, we never expected this outcome – a blowout.
Clearly, there’s something going on out there that everyone was underestimating.
Part of it was Lazio. Not to be mean to the vanquished, but he simply didn’t work hard enough, and his failure to debate was a huge mistake.
Part of it is the GOP itself. The party has been in disarray for some time. Moreover, Ed Cox, although a smart and personable guy, has been a disaster. His Steve Levy experiment was an insult to proud Republicans.
Most of it is simple anger and disgust with what’s been happening in New York in recent years. Paladino, far better than Lazio, spoke to that anger.
Now a lot of people are saying this morning that Paladino will never be able to mount a serious challenge to Andrew Cuomo, but (as we’ve also been saying) Cuomo is not invincible.
In this regard, Cuomo, like Lazio, simply isn’t working hard enough. There should be no debate about this point. This summer, he put out a booklet and did a bus tour. He’s done little else.
Cuomo, despite some clever attempts to appear otherwise, is indeed the ultimate insider, which is not a good thing in an anti-establishment year.
Moreover, Cuomo’s base, at best, is lukewarm on him. So as not to appear to be an insider (see above) he’s kept unions, minorities and establishment Dems at a distance. Now he needs to reconnect with the core constituencies, but the very act of doing so plays into Paladino’s hands.
We know what you’re thinking at this moment. You’re saying: “Ok, there might be an element of truth to what you’re saying, but Paladino is a real nut job. He’s going to say or do something stupid and it will be over.”
Maybe, or maybe not.
An awful lot of people from Western New York voted for him enthusiastically. They did so knowing his quirks, gaffes and shortcomings. It ought to tell us something that the people who know him best are solidly behind him.
There’s something else to consider. Other states have embraced total outsiders and lived to tell the tale. Think California with “Ah-nold” and Minnesota with Jesse Ventura. There was no disaster in those states. Novice pols didn’t do any worse than experienced pols. In fact, some people think they did better.
At some basic level, New York voters might be saying: “Hell, could Paladino do any worse than the fellas we’ve had recently? Maybe it’s time to really shake things up.”
Maybe it is.