A guy in a chicken suit chasing Republican Rick Lazio so far hasn’t been enough to prod him into a debate against Republican Carl Paladino before the GOP Sept. 14 primary.
Paladino says Lazio is “chicken” for refusing to debate him, and has assigned “Little Ricky,” the chicken-suited staffer, to follow Lazio around until he agrees to a debate.
YNN-TV’s “Capital Tonight” is tentatively planning an Aug. 30 debate in Syracuse to be aired statewide if both Republicans agree. As of Friday, only Paladino said he planned to attend.
“Rick Lazio is a frightened man,” said Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo. “He won’t tell the people where he stands and he won’t confront an opponent who has pulled up beside him in the passing lane. He will be in our rear view mirror in a matter of days.”
This week’s Siena College poll found that as the primary draws near, Lazio’s lead over Paladino has been cut to 43 percent to 30 percent, with 27 percent of those polled undecided. In July, Lazio led by 20 points.
Paladino, a millionaire developer from Buffalo, also has access to more campaign funds than Lazio has so far raised.
Lazio, a former congressman from Long Island, wouldn’t say if he would debate Paladino, who is seeking to drum up support among tea party activists. Lazio spokesman David James said the campaign is focused on Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo for the general election Nov. 2.
But to do that, Lazio will first have to beat Paladino.
Lazio is the Republican Party’s designee, having won far more votes than Paladino from party leaders in the state convention earlier this summer. Lazio also won the Conservative Party nomination.
Paladino collected thousands of signatures on a petition to force the Republican primary and to create a separate ballot line, the Taxpayers line, for the November election. He hopes to attract tea party activists, angry Republicans, Democrats and independent voters upset with politics as usual.
By MICHAEL GORMLEY,Associated Press Writer
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.