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Carl Paladino’s campaign for governor was doomed from the start because of the spate of racist and pornographic e-mails he forwarded to friends, campaign manager Michael Caputo told a forum Wednesday at New School University.
Caputo said the campaign knew about and polled about the e-mails before they were released by Buffalo website wnymedia.com and had hoped to manage their release on their own schedule, as they rolled out the news of his out-of-wedlock daughter.
“We found [the e-mails] to be very problematic,” Caputo said. “Not the pornography as much as the perceived racism. We found that to be a bullet to the head. It was something that we had to look at very carefully. I had the dubious honor of going through Carl’s outbox.”
Caputo said the campaign hired a private investigator to dig into Paladino’s life to guard against campaign surprises, but found nothing that hadn’t already emerged in the campaign.
Still, Caputo praised Paladino’s effort the first two weeks after his primary victory over Rick Lazio – the margin of which Caputo said stunned the Paladino camp. But once Paladino accused now-Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo of having “paramours” in interviews with Newsday’s Michael Amon and Politico’s Maggie Haberman -- and then nearly came to blows with the Post's Fred Dicker about them – the campaign only went downhill, he said.
“I do believe that Carl fell in love with the kerplunk of the turd in the punchbowl,” Caputo said.
In other highlights from the forum:
• Steve Levy adviser Michael Dawidziak said the Suffolk County executive was “praying and hoping” that Gov. David A. Paterson would mount a re-election bid so Levy could have a reasonable chance against him in a Democratic primary or in a three-way race against Paterson and Cuomo. “It was never our intention to run as a Republican,” Dawidziak said.
• Cuomo aide Phil Singer said with a straight face that Cuomo didn’t decide to enter the governor’s race until after Paterson dropped out. “For Andrew it was not a foregone conclusion,” Singer said. “It was one of those unique circumstances where the best political strategy is to focus on your job. As a strategy it worked out really well.”
• Paladino insisted on having the five minor-party candidates present at the Oct. 18 debate at Hofstra against the wishes of his staff. “He thought it was counter to the principles of democracy to exclude them,” Caputo said. “Our advice to him was … different.”
• While Paladino’s sick-and-tired shtick worked upstate, it never gained traction in New York City and on Long Island, Caputo said. “I think the fed-up line changes at Westchester,” he said. “I think that Carl always talked about how there is no upstate-downstate thing, that’s just politicians not doing their jobs. But there is. The people Westchester and south are maybe not just fine with the way things are run, but they find it better than the alternative. The ability for real change in Albany, it really hobbles that."
• Three of the Democratic candidates for attorney general – Assemb. Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), Sean Coffey and Eric Dinallo – rested their electoral hopes on receiving the endorsement of The New York Times editorial page, their aides said.