Governor races

Governor races

Ex-Rep. Lazio quits bid for N.Y. governor

Former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) has decided to bow out of New York's race for governor and cede the stage to real estate developer Carl Paladino (R) to face state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) in November.

After being upset by Tea Party-backed Paladino in the GOP primary earlier this month, Lazio left open the possibility that he would run on the Conservative Party line in the general election creating a three-way race. 

But Lazio said Monday that if he were to remain in the race, it would make a Democratic victory in November more likely.   

“While my heart beckons me forward, my head tells me that my continued presence on the Conservative line would simply lead to the election of Andrew Cuomo and the continuation of an entrenched political machine,” Lazio said at a Monday news conference, according to Bloomberg news

Several new polls out last week showed Cuomo leading Paladino, but a Quinnipiac poll put the challenger within just 6 points of Cuomo.  

Even with polls suggesting a tight race, big name Republicans have steered clear of Paldino who has been criticized for emails he has forwarded. Paladino has said he is channeling voter anger in his race, vowing at a campaign stop to "take a bat" to Albany.  


Republicans steer clear of Carl Paladino's insurgent bid in N.Y.

A new Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday showed the race for governor in New York between real estate developer Carl Paladino and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) shockingly close given all the institutional advantages for Cuomo in the overwhelmingly Democratic state. 

But big name Republicans aren't lining up behind Paladino's insurgent bid. 

Asked if he is supporting Paladino during a conference call with reporters, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said "I don't know Carl Paladino and he has not called me to ask for my endorsement."

The ex-mayor said that "my inclination is to support a Republican but I have no basis to make a decision."

Giuliani raised eyebrows in 1994 for endorsing Cuomo's father, then-Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo, over then-state Sen. George Pataki (R), who defeated the incumbent.

Giuliani also would not comment on the candidate he endorsed in the GOP primary, former Rep. Rick Lazio. The ex-congressman lost to Paladino but won the Conservative Party nomination. He has not decided whether or not to continue running in the race.

"I don't know what he's planning to do," Giuliani said, adding that he has not talked to him.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) also excluded Paladino from the list of New York endorsements his political action committee rolled out last week. 

The Tea Party-backed candidate, who upset former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) in last Tuesday's primary, is only six points behind Cuomo, who leads 49 percent to 43. 

Paladino is aided by a four-to-one margin of support among voters who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement. Among the 18 percent of likely voters who identify with the conservative groups, Paladino enjoys 77-18 percent support. 

Paladino's campaign has been offbeat to say the least. He has repeatedly threatened to "take a bat to Albany" at Tea Party rallies and before the primary a series of emails he forwarded surfacing--many containing pornography and racist jokes. 

-This post was updated at 3:25 p.m.


Poll: Paladino within striking distance of Cuomo in New York governor's race

New York GOP gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino is in a surprisingly close race with Democrat Andrew Cuomo, according to a poll released Wednesday.

A Quinnipiac University survey of likely voters placed the Tea Party-backed Paladino only six points behind Cuomo, who leads 49 percent to 43.

Paladino, a Buffalo-area real estate developer, is aided by a four-to-one margin of support among voters who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement. Among the 18 percent of likely voters who identify with the conservative groups, Paladino enjoys 77-18 percent support.

Cuomo is the state's attorney general, and his father was a governor of the Democratic-leaning Empire State, making him a favorite to win the race. Many observers thought Paladino's victory over former Rep. Rick Lazio in the GOP primary made a Cuomo general-election victory even more likely.

Paladino has been chastised by some in his own party for saying that he wants to "take a baseball bat to Albany" and for getting himself into hot water over e-mails he forwarded containing explicit material.

The Quinnipiac survey shows both Paladino and Cuomo with over 80 percent support among their parties, and Paladino surprisingly leads among independents 49 percent to 43.

The Qunnipiac poll of 751 likely New York state voters from Sept. 16-20 has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

-- This post was corrected at 2:07 p.m.


Abercrombie wins nomination for Hawaii governor

Former Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) this weekend handily won his party’s nomination in the race to become the next governor of Hawaii.

Abercrombie beat out former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the primary race.

Abercrombie will face Republican Lt. Gov. James Aiona in November for the governor’s seat. Immediately after he defeated Hannemann with 60 percent of the vote, Abercrombie launched his general election in an effort to bring back Democrats in the governor’s office after eight years of Republican leadership.

Meanwhile, Aiona, a conservative Republican, cruised to his party’s nomination with 95 percent of the vote. His only challenger was lawyer John Carroll.

In the fight to win Abercrombie’s former House seat, Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) who won the special election when Abercrombie retired, won his party’s nomination for the November election. On the Democratic side is was Democratic State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa who won the nomination this weekend.

Hawaii’s primary race on Saturday was the final primary day of the 2010 election cycle.


Rep. King: Paladino 'has to realize he's in the big leagues'

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. 

{mosads}"Yeah, I intend to support him as the nominee of the party," King said during an interview on WABC Radio in New York. "I have to tell you, though, some of the stuff he says is — I think it could be damaging. I think he has to realize he's in the big leagues now and there's more than just, you know, you're going to bring a baseball bat to Albany."

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."


Whitman breaks self-funding record set by Bloomberg

California Republican Meg Whitman has set a new record for self-financing a campaign.

The former eBay CEO added another $15 million to her gubernatorial bid on Wednesday, bringing her total contribution to just over $119 million, according to the Sacramento Bee

Whitman has now outpaced the spending record set by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who burned through some $110 million of his own fortune winning a third term in 2009. 

Despite Whitman's investment, a recent CNN/Time poll conducted Sept. 2-7 showed Whitman leading Democrat Jerry Brown in November 48 percent to 46 percent, but that fell within the polls margin of error. 

Republicans are banking on Whitman’s massive outlay boosting their prospects in the Golden State's Senate and House races. 

"Governors' races drive turnout," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who heads the Republican Governors Association (RGA), said during a recent trip to Washington. "Usually, governors’ races are better funded, and they take a lot of the responsibility in the ground game."

On the Senate side in California, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) is being challenged by Republican Carly Fiorina.

"There is a correlation between electing senators and electing governors," Barbour noted. "It is a very high likelihood that if we don’t elect a Republican governor in a state, that we will not pick up a Senate seat. That rarely happens; in the last 20 years, it’s rarely happened. Those two are tied together — a lot."


Ex-Gov. Ehrlich crushes Palin-backed rival

Former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich won the GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday to set up a rematch with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in November.

Ehrlich crushed investor Brian Murphy by some 60 points. With only 20 precincts reporting, the Associated Press declared him the winner.

He lost to O’Malley in 2006.

Murphy gained notoriety when he was endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. But in a bizarre twist, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday endorsed Ehrlich, pitting the 2008 GOP presidential ticket on opposite sides in this primary.

The Maryland governor’s primary was one of the first in which McCain and Palin found themselves supporting opposing candidates. Palin endorsed McCain in his March for reelection. He handily won his August primary contest.

Murphy ran to the right of Ehrlich but wasn't able to gain traction.


Maine Republican lashes out at reporters during press conference

This definitely isn't the best way for a gubernatorial candidate to end a press conference.

Maine Republican Paul LePage grew irate Monday after getting pressed by reporters on details about how his wife, Ann, had potentially "violated statutes by claiming property tax exemptions on homes in both Maine and Florida," according to the Bangor Daily News.

LePage is a Tea Party-backed candidate who was the surprise winner of the June gubernatorial primary.

The Republican, who faces state Sen. Libby Mitchell (D) and some independent candidates in November, eventually stormed out of the news conference. "I am running for governor, not my wife," he said.

A cameraman for WMTW-TV captured the entire exchange LePage had with reporters and then followed him on his way out the building. The station's website doesn't allow the video to be embedded, but the Maine Democratic Party uploaded the story to their YouTube site. It's gripping video.