As 2014 nears, all eyes are on Paladino
Spoilers have a particular place in our politics. A spoiler, of course, is a political candidate who gets into an election for one reason or another — usually a sanctimonious belief that he or she should be the candidate rather than the person the party actually chose. Ralph Nader comes to mind when you talk about potential spoilers.
The Tea Party branch of the Republican Party is presently calling the regular Republicans a series of names, basically accusing them of being sellouts. In New York, we even see the Tea Party types accusing some Conservative Party people of being sellouts. In listening to them you get the idea that these are true believers who would lose elections in order to defend their own rigid principles. This runs directly contrary to the American democratic ideology of “win at all costs.” Since the middle class and middle range voters determine whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, the name of the game is to capture that middle. That’s why we are hearing so little about the forty (plus) million people who are being put on the health care rolls as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). The middle class, by and large, doesn’t like giving what they perceive as handouts to those who they think are below them in social status, and the rich don’t like paying for anything that may raise their taxes.
The law in New York state says that you are assigned a ballot position in elections based on how your party did in the last statewide gubernatorial election. So if the Democratic candidate for governor got the most votes, as Andrew Cuomo did the last time out, his party, the Democrats, gets Row A until the next gubernatorial vote. At present, the Democrats have Row A, the Republicans Row B and the Conservatives Row C with the relatively new, progressive and union-friendly, Working Families Party on Row D. The Working Families Party was established to help keep the Democratic Party in the progressive tradition, just as the old Liberal Party used to do until it grew tired and inept.
It is the Conservative Party that has everyone talking now. That’s because Carl Paladino, who ran for governor as a Republican the last time out and got trounced by Andrew Cuomo, says he may run again. This time he’ll run on the Conservative line where he may have to win a primary. If the Conservatives do as well upstate this time out as Paladino did the last time around, Paladino could insure that the Conservatives would move from Row C to Row B and that would be really bad news for the Republicans who Paladino calls RINO’s (Republicans in name only). They would lose prestige as well as some of the legal benefits that are written into the states election laws.
It might also be very good for Democrat Cuomo because it would split the Republican and Conservative vote, bringing us back to the concept of the spoiler. It could also disgust many middle range Republican voters who might just vote for the neo-conservative Democrat, Cuomo.
Paladino would have no chance of winning the election but he’s apparently got a ton of money. He’s in his sixties and has been touched by the fickle finger of fame. Once you’ve had a taste of that, it becomes narcotic in its power over you. So much so that Paladino, after running for governor, next ran for his local Board of Education. Paladino has his eyes on Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who he suggests has sold out to Democrat Cuomo. On the face of it, that would seem so. If he succeeds in forcing Skelos out, the Senate Republicans would all undoubtedly face conservative opponents and that would scare them to death.
To put it mildly, everyone has their eyes on Paladino.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 11/18/13