Carl Paladino delivers a victory speech after winning the New...

Carl Paladino delivers a victory speech after winning the New York State Republican Gubernatorial primary race in Buffalo, Tuesday. (Sept. 14, 2010) Credit: AP

The day after Carl Paladino's remarkable GOP primary victory for governor, campaign manager Michael Caputo recalled how they put together their improbable win by focusing on one essential message.

"Anger in 2010 is the most unifying message in America," Caputo said Wednesday. "And Carl is not afraid to tell it like it is."

After spending more than $3 million over the past several months to get this message out, the 64-year-old Buffalo real estate magnate stunned the political world Tuesday by trouncing the Republican convention designee, former Long Island Rep. Rick Lazio, and earned the right to face Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the November general election.

But Paladino's upset - which many say underlines the political power of the fledgling tea party movement - also was the product of a well-financed and calculated campaign that tapped into voter anxieties about the economy and successfully capitalized on every long-shot opportunity.

Based on interviews with Paladino supporters and his opponents, here are some of the key reasons that Palladino was able to beat Lazio:


Upstate, downstate differences in getting out the vote. Paladino benefitted from a big voter turnout upstate, especially in Erie County where he lives, to pile up an overwhelming margin against Lazio, whose support on Long Island and in Westchester didn't match it. Paladino tapped into the anxiety of many voters deeply worried about their jobs and the economy, and many downstate Lazio supporters didn't realize how potent that would be in the primary. "We tend to get ignored upstate and that was part of the Paladino" appeal, said Albany political consultant Mike Grimm.


Behind Paladino's raw rhetoric were some savvy political advisers. Paladino's willingness to spend allowed him to hire Caputo, a political veteran who accompanied Paladino around the state, coaching him on how to respond to media questions about Paladino's forwarding of racist e-mails and other controversial issues. Along with Caputo, Paladino's team included Tony Fabrizio, a Virginia-based political consultant who has worked on several national and local Republican campaigns, including some on Long Island.


Lazio's weakness as a candidate. The lack of excitement surrounding Lazio, with less than $1 million cash in his war chest, had caused state GOP chair Edward Cox and Suffolk GOP leader John Jay LaValle to back Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy at the convention, though they supported Lazio once he became the party's designee. Throughout the summer, Paladino chopped away at Lazio while Lazio virtually ignored Paladino, insisting that the real battle was between himself and Cuomo in the fall. Lazio didn't pull out a significant weapon against Paladino - that the Buffalo businessman previously had donated thousands of dollars to Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democrats - until last weekend, when it was too late to have any impact on die-hard Republican primary voters.


Staying angry. While millions watched on TV, Paladino's speech after defeating Lazio repeated the theme of his whole campaign, with none of its rough edges modified for independents, conservative Democrats and other potential general election voters. In a Caputo-prepared speech, Paladino declared, "They say I am an angry man, and that's true. We are all angry. I'm an angry man." Some like Grimm say Paladino must be "more likable" to beat Cuomo, but Caputo says Paladino will remain true to his "mad-as-hell" approach.

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