27 September 2010
Lazio: A Voice, Not a Choice
After a conclave between Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino and Conservative Party boss Mike Long yesterday, Conservative gubernatorial nominee Rick Lazio is expected to drop out of the general election campaign today. Lazio lost the Republican primary to Paladino despite capturing the Conservative line early (though he had to defend it in a primary two weeks ago) as part of a gambit to intimidate the GOP into accepting Lazio. The Conservative endorsement is considered essential to the success of any Republican candidate for governor of New York. Last week, Lazio said that he intended to retain a voice in the campaign and criticized both Paladino and Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo for descending to personal attacks. Lazio himself could barely afford to make any attacks in his impoverished primary campaign. His withdraw gives the Conservatives a window of time to nominate another candidate, presumably Paladino. This seems to be less a surrender to lesser-evilism than an attempt by the outmaneuvered Conservatives to remain relevant. While I expected that Lazio could still have won sufficient votes from moderate Republicans to retain the Conservatives' guaranteed spot on the ballot, the narrowing of the gap between Cuomo and Paladino in some recent polls suggests that Republicans in general had already opted for lesser-evilism in the dubious form of the tea-fueled Buffalo developer. Under such conditions, the Conservatives only chance for survival may be to endorse Paladino. As for conservative New Yorkers who find Paladino obnoxious or untrustworthy, their best option now appears to be Libertarian candidate Warren Redlich, who pitches fiscal conservatism without a lot of the culture-war baggage. No matter what the news media tell you now, the New York campaign is not yet a two-man race.