The Albany earthquake that last week claimed Dean Skelos as Senate majority leader continues to rattle the state’s Republican establishment. Indeed, its aftershocks may very well inflict more collateral damage.
Buffalo’s Carl Paladino emerged as one of the first to survey the rubble and declare how he would deal with the disaster. A longtime Skelos archenemy, the 2010 Republican candidate for governor seemed to revel in the senator’s arrest on federal corruption charges.
For years, Paladino labeled the Long Island Republican a “RINO,” or Republican In Name Only. He blistered him for supporting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s strict gun control law known as the SAFE Act, and featured Skelos in his GOP establishment rants.
Now Paladino is targeting Olean’s Cathy Young, who had the audacity, in his view, to successfully side with Suffolk County’s John Flanagan to succeed Skelos. Paladino threatened a “blistering primary” if she voted for Flanagan – which she did.
Young occupies certified “Carl Country,” where anger over the SAFE Act boils. He could cause her a problem. But her world revolves around neither Paladino nor party leaders. The Senate represents a culture unto itself that will continue to command her loyalties.
Where Paladino may really concentrate, however, could be state Republican Chairman Ed Cox. Last week, Paladino was flaying Cox for failing to call for Skelos to step down.
“The first time we heard from Ed was to congratulate the RINO winner, handpicked by the accused felon,” Paladino broadcast in one of his famous emails. “Great leadership for not calling out the RINOs who gave us the SAFE Act, denied the Southern Tier the economic opportunity of fracking and who gave us nine new casinos to suck the last nickel out of the poor in upstate New York.”
Then Paladino hinted at a possible plan when the state committee considers party leadership in September.
“It’s time for the Republican county chairs and state committeemen to do the right thing,” he said. “End the misery, provide a better economic atmosphere for our future generations and elect in September an ‘upstater’ to lead the state party who knows real Republican values.”
So could Paladino in September advance a longtime ally like Nick Langworthy to challenge Cox? The Erie County GOP chairman called for Skelos to resign; Cox didn’t. Lots of people also look at Langworthy as a future state chairman. Cox appears to be happy right where he is.
At 34, Langworthy knows he has lots of time for statewide adventures and probably won’t be guided by Paladino’s agenda. And Paladino does not always follow through on his threats. But there is no question he feels empowered by the Skelos downfall and that Paladino enjoys a degree of statewide influence. And there is no question he will at least glance toward Erie County GOP Headquarters should he get serious about dethroning Cox.
When he appeared before the Conservative Party endorsement meeting a few nights ago, Guy Marlette figured he was wasting his time.
He even told Conservative leaders he believed a deal was sealed weeks ago in the County Legislature contest for District 5. Incumbent Democrat Tom Loughran would gain the minor party nod again this year in return for no Democratic opponent in District 10 against Conservative Joe Lorigo, majority leader of the Legislature and son of Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo.
“I respect the endorsement process, I just don’t respect deals,” Marlette said.
An irked Ralph Lorigo denies any deal, pointing to three past Conservative nods for Loughran.
While Republican activists like former Senate candidate Kevin Stocker make noise on Facebook about the situation, Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner also denies a deal. He says he is trying to persuade former West Seneca town justice candidate Nancy Bizub to take on Joe Lorigo.