Cuomo gears up for N.Y. governor's race against Paladino

In the political free-for-all that is the race for governor of New York, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo isn’t throwing punches — yet.

When asked about his surprise opponent, Tea Party-backed Republican Carl Paladino, the Democratic candidate didn’t take the bait.

“I don't know Mr. Paladino, and I don't think my characterization is all that relevant or appropriate, you know,” Cuomo, 52, told reporters Thursday.

But Paladino, a Buffalo real estate mogul known for his brash talk, isn’t backing down, insisting that Cuomo agree to debate him. “We will continue to call him out, to address the issues, to the people,” NY1 quoted Paladino as saying.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki said Thursday he intends to back Paladino, despite reports that the newly minted candidate referred to him as a “degenerate idiot.”

Paladino, 64, also doesn’t expect to gain many votes in Manhattan, which is “home to smug, self-important, pampered liberal elitists,” he told the Daily News.

While Cuomo is taking a restrained approach, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Gov. David Paterson were quick to call Paladino unfit for the state’s highest office.

Paladino’s campaign struck back, reportedly saying in a statement that Paterson “is addled and nearly all New Yorkers are counting down the days until he stops embarrassing this state.”

Paladino has sent a garbage-scented mailing to about 200,000 homes across New York. It features the photos of seven Democrats, six of whom have been investigated and two who have resigned in scandal in the past four years.

"Something STINKS in Albany," the mailer says.

Paladino’s Primary win over former Republican Rep. Rick Lazio was a surprise, although polls taken before the primary show Cuomo considerably ahead.

“This race has been like watching paint dry the last six months,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C. “Things just got more fun.”

(WITH AP)

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