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GOP Should Be Embarrassed

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If civility in the state’s political discourse is not dead, it is at least on life support. The nomination of Buffalo real estate developer Carl Paladino to represent the Republican Party in the state’s gubernatorial race represents a new low in state politics. We can only hope that the handful of people who voted in the primary did not know much about this candidate other than the fact that he was the choice of the Tea Party movement.

If the slime continues to pour out from Paladino’s mouth, we suspect the Tea Party will have to distance itself. That will be difficult for the GOP. It is stuck with him. Party leaders must be secretly wishing Rick Lazio had won, even if the lackluster candidate had little chance to beat Democratic state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Do not get us wrong. We have nothing against spirited debate and politicians who talk tough and are willing to take a swing at their opponents. But there is a line of civility that must not be crossed, and the man nicknamed “Crazy Carl” by the tabloids has done that repeatedly.

We cannot remember a candidate running for major office as offensive as Paladino. For example, in recent days he called Gov. David Paterson a “pathetic wimp” and former Gov. George Pataki “a degenerate idiot.” He said state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver “belongs in Attica” and added that Manhattan is “home to smug, self-important, pampered liberal elitists.” He promised that if he becomes governor, he would send state police into New York City and “every other sanctuary city in the state to pick up illegals and turn them over to the feds.”

If elected — a frightening possibility — Paladino will embarrass the entire state, not just the Republican Party. One does not have to be a Cuomo supporter to oppose his candidacy. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has shown that it is possible to be a colorful reformer embracing the agenda of the Tea Party without being offensive. Both men have gotten the attention of the nation, but in Paladino’s case it is for all the wrong reasons.

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