NY GOP gov hopeful: Cuomo lied about NYC mayor vote; Cuomo ad hits foe’s tax break, donations

By Michael Gormley, AP
Thursday, September 23, 2010

NY gov GOPer: Cuomo lied about NYC mayor vote

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Republican candidate for New York governor on Thursday accused his Democratic opponent, Andrew Cuomo, of lying after Cuomo retracted his claim that he had voted for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Cuomo made his first direct attack on his tea party Republican rival, Carl Paladino, in a television ad.

In one of two new television ads, Cuomo tries to paint Buffalo developer Carl Paladino as a political insider who contributed $452,000 to politicians over several years to secure a $1.4 million tax break for development of commercial buildings in inner-city Buffalo.

The ad came after Cuomo spent months engaging Paladino through the state Democratic Committee, which Cuomo directs, and surrogates.

Paladino tried to seize on what may have been Cuomo’s first campaign gaffe. During a Manhattan news conference Wednesday to announce Bloomberg’s endorsement, Cuomo was asked if he ever voted for Bloomberg.

“Have I voted for the mayor? Yes,” Cuomo said. “And do I think he’s doing an extraordinary job? Yes.”

During the Bloomberg years, Cuomo was a city voter in 2005. That year, he endorsed Democrat Freddy Ferrer against Bloomberg, who was then a Republican. Cuomo backed Democrat Bill Thompson in Bloomberg’s latest race, when Cuomo didn’t live in the city.

“Cuomo lied about voting for Bloomberg yesterday or he lied about voting for Ferrer in 2005,” Paladino said Thursday. “Either way, he lied and voters are tired of career politicians’ lies … I will always be honest with voters and tell them exactly what I believe.”

Cuomo’s campaign on Wednesday said he misspoke. Cuomo wouldn’t comment Thursday.

Just hours before the endorsement by the billionaire mayor, who is an independent, a Quinnipiac University poll found Paladino winning the independent vote. New York has 5.8 million enrolled Democrats and 2.9 million Republicans, but 2.3 million independent, unaffiliated voters.

Cuomo’s first new ad is about a woman he helped as attorney general in a fight against an insurance company. The other criticizes Paladino for political donations and for getting a $1.4 million tax break, which Paladino said he won as the lowest bidder.

The ad begins, “Who is Carl Paladino?” then seeks to define him as a “welfare king” who took the tax break while creating just one job through “insider deals from Albany.”

The ad says Paladino “got rich by milking taxpayers … Carl Paladino isn’t part of the solution in Albany. He’s part of the problem.”

Paladino said he met all the criteria as the lowest bidder to renovate buildings in a neighborhood where developers could obtain tax breaks. He said the retail stores that used his renovated spaces in low-income neighborhoods created more than 60 retail jobs.

Cuomo refused to say how much the statewide ads cost.

“The Cuomo camp shows they are tone deaf to the public’s call for outsider business leadership,” said Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo. He said the ad can “only twist the facts to deceive the voters.”

“Everybody knows that behind the scenes, (Cuomo) is the dirtiest, nastiest political player out there,” former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, now a political commentator for CNN, said during the cable channel’s “American Morning” show.

“He has a lot of enemies out there,” said Spitzer, who resigned in 2008 in a prostitution scandal. “Nobody’s been willing to stand up to him. When it appeared he was going to win, it was inevitable. If it appears not to be inevitable, things may change. He has a lot of folks, he’s really been on the wrong side of who may stand up.”

Cuomo campaign spokesman Josh Vlasto responded that Cuomo’s “record, credibility and honor speak for themselves, as do Mr. Spitzer’s.”

Lee Miringoff of the Marist College poll said politicians need to appear to be outsiders and define their opponent as Albany insiders in this year of voter anger.

“Cuomo has been positioning himself in both roles — the knowledge and experience to clean up the mess in Albany and he’s been on the side of the people,” Miringoff said. “He’s trying to be the insider and the outsider.”

A Siena College poll of registered voters Thursday found Cuomo had a 57 percent to 24 percent lead over Paladino. On Wednesday the Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters found Cuomo had just a 6-point lead. Most polls question likely voters closer to Election Day because it is a more accurate measure than surveying registered voters, many of whom won’t vote.

A comparison of the polls is impossible because of the different methodologies. Each had a margin of error just more than 3 percentage points.




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