Thursday, February 10, 2011


After Shirtless Carl Lee abruptly resigned from the Senate, I saw a Dave Weigel tweet that said, "A source close to Carl Paladino tells me he's being 'heavily lobbied' to run" in the upcoming special election in Lee's district. I thought it was a joke -- but Albany Times-Union political blogger Jimmy Vielkind says Paladino really is one of the potential candidates:

I floated it as a joke, but then a source e-mailed to say it's actually being considered.

And oh hell, why not? Lee's district, we're told, "spans parts of Erie, Niagara and Monroe counties (nothern suburbs of Buffalo, western suburbs of Rochester) as well as the GLOW counties: Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming and Orleans." Of those seven counties, Paladino won five in the governor's race against Cuomo, two of them by more than a two-to-one margin.

Is there anything a Republican can say or do to become an utter pariah, someone who can't possibly return to politics? Earlier this week Senator Jim Webb announced that he won't run for reelection in Virginia, quite possibly making George "Macaca" Allen the favorite to gain that seat -- and he might have been the favorite even with Webb in the race. And now this. I don't care if Paladino is a longshot and the candidate is likely to be someone else. Why is this even possible?

In fact, Paladino and his confreres still seem to be regarded as serious players in state politics. And, really, why not? We think we beat teabagism and the GOP worldview when Cuomo beat Paladino, but, in fact, Cuomo is proposing a GOP-style, almost teabaggy budget -- huge cuts to government services, and an ironclad pledge not to raise taxes on anyone. Paladino's 2010 campaign manager, Michael Caputo, says Cuomo is "Carl Lite," and he's actually been lobbying teabaggers to support Cuomo's budget -- with quite a bit of success:

The latest to sign on are Bob and Mary Meyer, co-founders of the Suffolk County 9-12 Project.

The couple sent out an e-mail yesterday that included a link to a recent National Review story entitled "Cuomo the Conservative," and urged fellow Tea Partiers to back Cuomo's agenda, even though it doesn’t go nearly as far as Paladino had proposed.
"Gov. Andrew Cuomo has presented a budget laced with real conservative fiscal reforms," they wrote. "In fact, we were surprised how much his proposals sound like Carl Paladino's plan. He's proposing bureaucracy layoffs, Medicaid cuts, property tax relief, and mandate reform."

"What kind of agenda is this from the son of Mario Cuomo? You simply cannot call his fiscal plan progressive or liberal -- it's conservative..."

And Paladino himself says that Cuomo's budget is, in his opinion, on the right track (though not quite right-wing enough).

The Overton window is wherever right-wingers say it is at any given time -- even if Carl Paladino is standing in the window holding a baseball bat.


OH, AND: Charlie Gasparino recently wrote at the Daily Beast that Cuomo thinks this approach could get him elected president in 2016:

... [The] budget presentation, at least according friends and associates I spoke to in recent days, was Andrew Cuomo's way of telling the world that for all intents and purposes, he's running for president in the not so distant future -- almost definitely not in 2012, but most definitely in 2016.

Of course 2016 is a long way off, but these people say you can hear it in the rhetoric he used: The son of Mario Cuomo -- "the liberal's liberal," to borrow a phrase from The Wall Street Journal -- declared the state "functionally bankrupt" thanks in part to its big-government policies. He then declared war on both the welfare state and his father's old liberal voting base (and the base of the New York State Democratic Party): The public employee unions, the special-interest groups, the lobbyists representing health care and education, all of whom have for years forced the state to live beyond its means because of automatic funding increases regardless of "outcome measures" and with "no performance measures," he said....

Gasparino's a Murdoch operative (Fox Business Channel, New York Post), but is this implausible? And depressing. Look, I defend the Democrats, but a Cuomo-Christie or Cuomo-Rubio race may send me over to the Nader line.

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