Remember when Gov. David Paterson announced he was running for re-election? His campaign lasted about a New York minute—fortunately for our attorney general. Andrew Cuomo was itching for his fellow Democrat to step aside so he could enter the race. Now Cuomo is so far ahead in the polls that he may have to worry about another headache: voter turnout.
But that problem is probably worse for his nearest rival, Carl Paladino, the nominee of the Republican and Conservative parties. In the Empire State, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 3 million people. Nationally there seems to be an “enthusiasm gap” between the two major parties. Here it’s not easy to predict who will show up to vote on Election Day. The Democrats seem dispirited, and the Republicans are steaming mad.
Paladino, the Buffalo businessman making his first run at public office, would need a miracle to win. By all measures his performance at Hofstra University’s gubernatorial debates was a bust, and he needed to nail it to get back his mojo. His big asset—his big mouth—was almost clammed shut. Here’s a guy who once said he’d take a baseball bat to Albany, who called Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a “criminal” (and worse), and even labeled the last Republican governor, George Pataki, “a degenerate idiot.” No, that outspokenness was not to be heard on stage that night.
Instead, he was overshadowed by the minor party candidates—and a couple of them might even get more votes than he does, judging from all the media attention since then. Kristin Davis, the former madam running on the Anti-Prohibition Party, wants to legalize marijuana, decriminalize prostitution, and promote casino gambling. Those are her ideas to raise revenues, and the state will need to fill an $8 billion budget gap next year, according to some estimates. Paladino wants to cut state income taxes by 10 percent, and shrink the size of government. It’s not a formula for growth. At least Davis’ policies promise more pleasure than pain. Who knows? She won’t win the election, but she may yet get her reality-TV show that her advisor Roger Stone said she wanted. (Stone’s also been advising Paladino.)
By now everyone who paid attention to the candidates’ televised debate—the only one held in New York—would recognize Jimmy McMillan if they saw him on the street. The nominee of the Rent Is 2 Damn High Party, a party of one apparently, has fabulous facial hair and a catchy slogan: “The rent is too damn high!” Paradoxically, it turns out that the Brooklyn resident-turned-politician has been living rent-free for years. He doesn’t see that as a contradiction. New York landlords probably needn’t worry about his chances but he could give barbershops a run for their money.
Warren Redlich is a registered Republican running for governor on the Libertarian Party line. Among his many proposals, he’d cap public sector pay at $100,000 per year, and put a lid on pensions at $75,000. He’d also get rid of the tolls on the New York State Thruway. The upstate attorney apparently spends a lot of time on the road between Schenectady and Albany.
Howie Hawkins, a former Marine working for UPS in Syracuse, is the Green Party candidate. His platform calls for a single-payer health-care system, progressive taxation that would restore the state income tax rate from the 1970s, and much more public investment in mass transit and renewable energy projects.
Charles Barron, a New York City councilman from Brooklyn, is running on the Freedom Party ticket. The former Black Panther shares some of the progressive economic ideas espoused by the Green Party, but his goal is to empower the black and Latino community, particularly within the five boroughs, which he believes is underserved and definitely underrepresented by the white men nominated by the two major parties in this election.