October 30, 2010
Paladino strikes chord with local GOP
Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has been a controversial figure throughout the current election campaign, but in Cortland County Republicans are showing support for the outspoken businessman.
Bob Fleming, a Freetown resident volunteering at Republican Headquarters on Port Watson Street Tuesday afternoon, said he thinks Paladino is a good man.
Fleming likes that Paladino wants to cut taxes, saying he think the goal is feasible since there are many overlapping services and too much abuse of the social service system.
Of Paladino’s controversial comments, Fleming said Paladino is entitled to his own viewpoint and he would not judge him negatively based on the news media coverage.
Paladino has been criticized for sending e-mails with racist and demeaning messages and for saying homosexuality is not a valid lifestyle choice. He has also spoken forcefully about changing the leadership in Albany, saying he will get rid of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Paladino also drew much controversy with his plan to turn prisons into centers that will teach able-bodied welfare recipients job skills and proper hygiene.
Paladino, a real estate developer from Buffalo, is running against Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who is favored to win the election Nov. 2, with some polls showing him ahead by 20 points.
But those who are voting for Paladino locally are not deterred by polls that put him far behind his Democratic opponent.
“I think anything is possible, he has a chance,” said Cortland resident Dean Mortis as he picked up Paladino campaign signs and bumper stickers from Republican Headquarters Tuesday.
Mortis, who is registered with the Independence Party, said he supports Paladino because of his anti-establishment attitude.
“He is tired of the way Albany is going and I think he’s saying ‘enough is enough,’ ” Mortis said.
Mortis, who voted for President Barack Obama, said he is not satisfied with the way the country is going and will vote for anyone who will “shake things up.”
Mortis said he thinks Paladino will help create an environment that welcomes businesses in New York state, saying he is “pro taxpayer and pro business.”
County Republican Party Chair John Folmer said Paladino’s message resounds with people and he thinks Paladino will be more popular than the polls predict.
“I think people hear ‘I’m going to cut spending and cut taxes’ and that’s what people really want to hear,” Folmer said.
If elected, Paladino has pledged to cut the state budget by 20 percent and cut taxes by 10 percent during his time in office.
Folmer pointed to Paladino’s business experience as positioning him well for making sound financial judgments if elected, but Folmer said he will have to work with legislators in Albany and that would be a challenge for him.
“We’ve seen how the Assembly is run and we’ve seen what goes on in the Senate ... Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver runs with an iron fist ... and the idea he will work with someone as strong-willed as he is, that’s going to be a problem,” Folmer said.
Folmer said Paladino has created a phenomenon, calling the race the most contentious he has ever seen and referring to Paladino as “fascinating.”
Of the support for Paladino, Folmer said he has found a mixed reaction.
The GOP chairman said that people who were offended by Paladino’s statements will probably not get over those reactions, but those who did not fall into categories that were targeted by his remarks will be more forgiving.
Marathon resident Janice Parker recently attended an event in Union Springs where people could meet Paladino, and said she thinks he is a warm person.
“I’m surprised at the way people portray him, he’s not like that at all. He’s very warm and caring, and wants to do the best for New York state,” Parker said.
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