ALBANY -- 2010 Republican nominee for governor Carl Paladino said Wednesday that GOP candidate Rob Astorino can’t beat Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“I don’t feel he can or will win,” Paladino told Newsday. The Buffalo millionaire wouldn’t say whether he would challenge Astorino, but said Astorino must purge moderate Republicans who Paladino calls "RINOs" -- Republican in name only.
Astorino, the two-term Westchester County executive, announced his candidacy Wednesday. Billionaire developer Donald Trump is also considering a run against Cuomo.
Astorino “cannot trust the RINOs who will lay down on him and his candidacy like they laid down on me,” Paladino said in an e-mail. “Some of them have already jumped onto Cuomo’s bandwagon.”
Paladino also said Senate Republicans who have closely allied with Cuomo on tax and spending issues are “a bunch of cowards.”
“Nevertheless if Trump does not run and Astorino does denounce the RINOs and purge them from the party, then I will support Astorino,” Paladino said.
But Paladino also said Astorino would have to break from Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, among others, all of whom Paladino called “sellouts” to Republicans and Conservative Party members. Paladino called Astorino’s campaign a “sacrifical run” doomed to failure and intended in part to keep favored lobbyists like former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato "fat and happy."
“This effort is more about the dysfunction of the Albany establishment and the abuse of government by the arrogant and vain tyrant, Andrew Cuomo, who want to maintain the status quo, than it is about the candidates,” Paladino said.
"We look forward to an entertaining Republican primary process and are ready to to run against whomever their nominee is in September," said Peter Kauffmann, spokesman for the New York State Democratic Committee
Paladino has considered a Conservative Party run for governor, but wouldn’t comment on that Wednesday. After handing Cuomo his only regional loss -- in Western New York -- Paladino stayed active in Buffalo and state politics. Paladino also led rallies against Cuomo’s gun control measure.
There was no immediate comment from Astorino or Cuomo.