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Paladino bides his time

Nothing really worked out for Carl Paladino this gubernatorial election year.

After a spectacular GOP primary victory in 2010, the Buffalo real estate developer was creamed by Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the general election. But then, as life in New York politics continued, Paladino found a friendly base in the nine western counties that voted for him in 2010.

In truth, Paladino never considered running again on the Republican line – but did care deeply about his successor candidate. So when Rob Astorino surfaced, the 2010 guy pretty much shrugged his shoulders, pronounced him a loser and said he might run on a minor party line. And when the Donald Trump craze gripped upstate leaders, Paladino caught the fever, too.

But like all his other political dalliances, Trump also abandoned this one for the glories of Trump World. Paladino then wiggled out of his own threats to run on a tea party line by announcing a “Draft Trump for Governor” movement. So far, the stampede of support has yet to form.

“I think it’s time for the Republican Party to unite and focus on the general election,” said Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy – just the kind of party guy Paladino would need to give credence to any draft Trump effort.

Essentially, the draft Trump effort already played out during December and January meetings at Trump’s Manhattan offices. That’s when several party leaders controlling a healthy majority of convention votes said he was their guy if only he would make the announcement. That, of course, was never going to happen.

Paladino’s fatal mistake was his failure to register last year as a member of the Conservative Party. That would have allowed him to compete against Astorino – the choice of state Chairman Mike Long – and maybe defeat the Westchester County executive just as he did Long’s choice of Rick Lazio in 2010.

But Long – a wily old cat – controls the process authorizing a non-Conservative to run on his line. End of story.

Still, the bet here is that Paladino won’t simply fade away this election year. It may not have all gone his way, but he still maintains a platform – and is sure to use it.

More news and notes on the politics of Erie County and New York State:

• Speaking of Langworthy, when he showed up a few days ago at the Irish Center’s big St. Pat’s lunch sporting a “Mickey Kearns for Assembly” button, the Politics Column brilliantly deduced the local GOP chairman will again support the South Buffalo Democrat.

Kearns, you recall, upset endorsed Democrat Chris Fahey during a special election just two years ago while running on the Republican line – unheard of in Democratic South Buffalo. Now Kearns appears unopposed this year with no Democratic primary opponent and the GOP once again on board.

“Here’s a guy who stares down Shelly Silver. To my people, Shelly Silver is a villain,” Langworthy said. “I’m proud to support him.”

• Two months and counting now since the District 3 seat of the County Legislature was vacated following the resignation of Lynn Marinelli. Several sources label City Hall insider Peter Savage the front-runner, which The Buffalo News reported last week as a problem to the political operation of County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

So even if Savage does have the votes, it appears that Dem Chairman Jeremy Zellner – a close Poloncarz ally – remains in no hurry to call an endorsement meeting.

• Local Republicans have scheduled April 12 for a “regional candidate screening” to discuss statewide offices. Astorino seems set for governor, but the party will also discuss lieutenant governor, comptroller and attorney general.

Among those looking at AG is John Cahill, a former top aide to Gov. George Pataki and a current Pataki law partner. He is considered a top contender at this early juncture, especially with his ability to tap into a still very much alive Pataki fundraising network.