NEW YORK (AP / WCBS 880) — If politics is the art of compromise, no one told Carl Paladino.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate, who tapped into a wellspring of voter anger to grab an unexpected primary win two weeks ago, was very clear on what the next four years would look like if he wins.
In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, the real estate developer insisted he would limit himself to one four-year term and suggested that a little scorched earth probably wouldn’t be so bad. When asked how he could work with politicians he’s currently speaking out against, the 64-year-old made it clear he had no intention of doing so.
“It’s not going to be pretty,” Paladino said of his time in office. “It’s going to be very confrontational.”
Paladino, a millionaire developer in Buffalo, gained notoriety early on in his campaign when it was reported he had forwarded racist and sexist e-mails, for which he has apologized. In recent months, he won the support of tea party voters angry with high taxes and politics as usual, and he rode that support to his primary victory.
His mince-no-words, take-no-prisoners style is focused on bringing what he says is needed change to the way Albany works.
In policy terms, that’s meant taking stances in favor of cutting benefits like Medicaid because, he says, the state’s generous policies attract people who come to New York solely to take advantage of them at the expense of taxpayers.
The policies “are inviting every Tom, Dick and Harry poor and disenfranchised person to come to New York state,” he said. “We don’t want them, they’re the responsibility of the federal government or the place they came from.”
When asked if that meant immigrants, he replied he was talking about “immigrants and other people.”
In political terms, that’s meant lambasting Cuomo and others like powerful Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whom he accuses of running the government like a dictatorship.
When asked how it would be possible to work with Silver should he be elected, Paladino questioned the assumption that he would at all.
“Why would I work with Sheldon Silver? He’s wrong,” Paladino said.
He said he would work only with people of his choosing, which would not include anyone he thought was trying to uphold the dysfunctional status quo in Albany.
Silver spokesman Bill Wise declined to comment on Paladino’s remarks, saying the speaker would rather New Yorkers focus on Paladino’s character and position on the issues.
Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute, said Silver’s years in Albany would make him a difficult person to ignore.
“Shelly Silver has been the power in Albany for a long time now,” he said.
Paladino said he expected legislators with whom he could work would be elected to state government in November.
Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff said that remained to be seen. He said voters see a need for change in Albany, but also are upset that elected officials aren’t working together to solve problems. Paladino, he said, was tapping into the first concern while ignoring the second.
Paladino had even harsher words for his opponent in the governor’s race.
Cuomo “doesn’t have one quality to be the representative of the government of the state of New York, to be a representative of the people,” he said.
When asked about the tone of the general election campaign, already noted for its negativity, he said it would continue to be “a hell of a ride. Andrew’s political career will be over when we get done with him.”
Cuomo campaign spokesman Josh Vlasto denounced Paladino’s rhetoric.
“Spite is not a rationale for running for governor,” he said. “Paladino’s extremist rants won’t create jobs or reduce property taxes. His brand of extremism wants to destroy a lot of things, like a woman’s right to choose. Voters are now faced with a stark choice and we will keep talking about the issues that New Yorkers care about.”
Paladino said he is willing to do something he hates — campaigning — because he says the work of governing is that important.
“Doing this, this campaigning, is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever got myself involved with, but it’s a necessary evil so that I can do the real job,” Paladino said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)