New York GOP gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino has to change his act if he expects to have a chance to win his election, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said Thursday.
King offered his support to the controversial Tea Party-backed candidate, who defeated former Rep. Rick Lazio in the primary Tuesday, but said he would have to tone down his rhetoric.
King referenced a remark Paladino made on the campaign trail in which he stated that he would “take a baseball bat to Albany” to rid the state capital of corruption.
The Buffalo real esate developer, however, has appeared to divide New York Republicans. He has found himself in hot water over e-mails he forwarded to friends containing pornographic material and racist jokes.
But King acknowledged that Paladino had unexpectedly harnessed the energy of the GOP voting base, which appears to be deeply discontented with the status quo.
"Right now, the fact is, there is a tremendous discontent out there that the elites and many party officials did not see coming," King said. "And it's all around the country, so we hope to work with Carl Paladino."
Paladino's win came on the same night Christine O'Donnell, another candidate backed by Tea Party groups, surprisingly won the GOP Senate primary in Delaware over nine-term centrist Rep. Mike Castle.
King said that Paladino has a week to 10 days to prove he is a serious challenger to Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo and expressed confidence he would adapt his campaign for the general election.
"But again, he has to realize — I think he will; he's a smart guy — that there's a difference between being an insurgent running in a primary and actually running for governor, being the governor of a state. You can still be a tough guy — look at Chris Christie in New Jersey. He's doing a tremendous job, but at the same time, he knows how to do it in a way that doesn't needlessly offend people."