NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There has been a dramatic development in the race for New York governor.
A new poll has Republican Carl Paladino within striking distance of Democrat Andrew Cuomo as voters say they want to elect someone who will stop the circus in Albany.
Wednesday was supposed to be Cuomo’s day as he picked up the endorsement of New York City’s notoriously independent mayor, Michael Bloomberg, in the race for governor.
But a new poll changed that because it turned Cuomo’s once comfortable front-runner status on its head.
“I’m in politics. I’m in government, so nothing surprises me,” Cuomo told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
But it was a surprise. Only one week after his upset victory over Rick Lazio in the Republican primary, Paladino is now breathing down Cuomo’s neck.
Only six points separate Cuomo and Paladino in the Quinnipiac University poll. Cuomo now leads 49-43, with a plus or minus error of 3.6.
The poll was certainly a stunner for Team Paladino. At the last minute he bailed out of a press conference to take calls from new donors.
“Suddenly his phone lit up with offers of financial resources. We cancelled his schedule and he’s in Buffalo returning telephone calls and having meetings so that we are able to take advantage of this rainstorm,” Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg said he is backing Cuomo because he can best deal with voter anger over Albany’s complete dysfunction.
“The public is mad, frustrated, but what the public wants is progress,” Bloomberg said.
Why does Cuomo think he’s better able to fix Albany than Paladino.
“My argument then is, Marcia, look at what I have done as attorney general,” Cuomo said. “I’ve been not only articulating the dissatisfaction with Albany, I’ve been acting on it. I’ve been very aggressive in bringing public integrity cases and public corruption cases and bringing cases against sitting legislators.”
But for all his actions as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Cuomo did have a little problem with telling the truth about his election box support for Mayor Bloomberg.
“Have I voted for the mayor? Yes,” Cuomo said.
Actually, he didn’t. The Cuomo campaign had to issue a clarification, saying he was only registered to vote in New York City in 2005 when he endorsed Democrat Fernando Ferrer.
Political experts say Cuomo can’t afford to make a mistake like that in a close contest.
“When the races tighten up in this way you can’t afford many more ‘whoops’ moments. He’s got to be a lot more careful going forward,” political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said.
The Paladino team used the faux pas to taunt Cuomo about not yet agreeing to debates.
Paladino spokesman Caputo said “Perhaps that’s why Andrew is afraid to debate. He misspeaks so much he fears facing the voters.”