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Conservative Buffalo developer Carl Paladino announced his candidacy for governor before hundreds of supporters, who rallied behind his frustration at the status quo and promise of change.
"Mad as hell" Carl Paladino determined one thing as he entered the race for New York governor Monday: He's not the only one who's mad.
Hundreds of supporters responded in earsplitting agreement when the millionaire Buffalo developer asked over and over if they felt the same.
"I just can't sit around any more on the sidelines supporting different politicians, hoping this one or that one will be different," the 63-year-old Republican said inside the lobby of one of the office buildings in his expansive real estate portfolio. "I'm going to Albany to get the job done myself."
Well known on his home turf for taking to the airwaves with his disdain for the school system and local politicians, Paladino promised to spend up to $10 million of his own money to shake up a "self-serving and despicable" state government in the same love-him-or-hate-him style.
"My frustration is your frustration," he said, vowing to declare a fiscal state of emergency "when I take my hand off the Bible." Also on his agenda in the face of a $9.2 billion state budget deficit is closing New York's borders to welfare seekers, cutting state spending and taxes, pursuing eight-year term limits for all elected officials and ending automatic cost-of-living raises for legislators.
"And here's the fun part. We're going to unhinge the Albany ruling class," Paladino said at a kickoff that featured a seven-piece band, shower of red, white and blue balloons and a two-story orange banner blaring "I'm mad as hell too, Carl."
"We're going to send some of them to Attica," he said.
A Sunday headline in his hometown Buffalo News asked, "Is New York Ready for Carl Paladino?"
The answer should start emerging this week as he makes stops in Albany, New York City and Syracuse.
"It's certainly a different approach," said Erie County Republican Chairman James Domagalski, who said Paladino has not sought the party's support. "But if ever there were times for somebody to be blunt, these are the times."
"People are not fools," Domagalski added. "I have great faith in the voters and when they see the state government completely out of touch with their agenda then I think they're going to warm up to the blunt talk."
Rita Hartmann of Buffalo, in the crowd with her husband, Bob, liked what she heard.
"He speaks the plain language that everybody understands," she said. "I hope downstate recognizes the type of person he is."
Records from the state comptroller's office show Paladino is landlord to several state agencies, including the Department of Transportation and Office of General Services, that lease in buildings he owns.
He is seeking the Republican line on the ballot, against former Congressman Rick Lazio, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and Warren Redlich, a lawyer from Guilderland in Albany County.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is the only potential Democratic candidate to surface so far.
Even before his announcement, Paladino found himself answering questions about a now 10-year-old daughter by a former staffer who was not his wife and a comment he made on a New York City radio show in which he linked health care reform and 9/11. He said the point of the comment was that both days would be remembered in history.
His daughter, whom he told his wife about year when their 29-year-old son, Patrick, died in a car crash, was expected at Monday's announcement.