Sizing up the Paladino-Langworthy Republican primary

This is going to be interesting. 

Once allies, now enemies.   No rules.  Cage match.  Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration.

The warhorse businessman versus the young political strategist.

The say-whatever-comes-to-mind old guy taking on the politician who can measure his words when he needs to.

Up until May 27th Western New York Republicans and Conservatives had settled into the idea that Congressman Chris Jacobs was their guy for the new 23rd congressional district, which includes eastern and southern Erie County plus six other counties in the southern tier.  Jacobs was a reliable conservative vote in Congress who mostly followed the Trump line in his politics.

But when Jacobs announced that he would support federal and state legislation to restrict the sale of assault weapons like those used in the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres, along with other reforms, the local Republicans and Conservatives went wild.  They demonstrated by their words and actions that guns are more important to them than the lives of children and adults simply going about their business.  So regardless of prior alliances and personal connections, reliable conservative Jacobs had to go.

There are a couple reasons why there will be a primary between Carl Paladino and Nick Langworthy: (1) the guns over peoples’ lives priority created an open seat; and (2) personal ambition. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the candidates to explain their love of assault weapons. The ambition thing, however, is already evident. Paladino wants to vindicate himself once again. Langworthy is looking for outplacement since the state party he leads will likely be shut out in November. His endorsed candidate for governor, Lee Zeldin, is not a sure thing in the primary.

Here are some factors that may influence or explain the eventual outcome of the August 23rd primary:

  • Campaigns run on money. The relatively short amount of time before the primary demands lots of cash in a hurry. Paladino claims to have $500,000 in his account already, presumably his own money. There will be more. Langworthy will likely draw his cash largely from national PACs oriented to creating a Republican House Majority. Neither candidate will have a decided advantage in money.
  • Donald Trump carried the new 23rd district by 18 percent in 2020, so of course they both want and expect his blessing. Don’t be surprised if Trump endorses Langworthy, which he would be doing for his lapdog Kevin (McCarthy).
  • Much is being made (and should be) about the latest Paladino mind vomiting, the massacres interpreted as “false flags” and his admiration of Adolph Hitler’s accomplishments. Other crazy comments followed Paladino when he ran for governor in 2010 but he won the party primary overwhelmingly. In the subsequent twelve years such antics have become commonplace in Republican/Trump politics, so it is questionable as to whether new revelations about Paladino will do any real damage among Republican voters.
  • In 2010 Paladino received 81 percent of Republican gubernatorial primary votes in the counties now located in the 23rd district.
  • Paladino received 62 percent of the vote in the new 23rd in the 2010 general election.
  • There has never in local political history been a candidate who ran for public office while holding a party leadership position without having previously been in elective office. How well a party boss translates simultaneously into a political candidate is something that remains to be seen.
  • The New York Times reported over the weekend about a rebellion of sorts among some Republican Party leaders around the state concerning Langworthy’s intentions of simultaneously running for Congress and running the campaign efforts of the State Committee that he heads. Party leadership is selected in September. If Langworthy or Zeldin or both should lose their primaries, the party might be looking for new leadership.

The primary will be nasty and divisive for the party. This follows the messy congressional primary in 2020, which Jacobs won, and the 2021 primary for Erie County sheriff, where the candidate supported by Republican and Conservative leadership was badly beaten by the non-endorsed John Garcia. Republicans don’t handle primaries very well.

The Democrats have their candidate for November, retired Air Force veteran Max Della Pia.  Watching Republicans slug it out amongst themselves for most of the summer will be fun if you’re not in the Republican establishment.  Get your popcorn.  The show is just beginning.

Early voting

Early voting for the June 28th primary for governor, lieutenant governor, and local offices such as Erie County Clerk, will begin on June 18th and continue through June 26th.  Information about locations and times of voting in Erie County can be found at this link .  Information about early voting in other counties can be found on the counties’ Board of Elections websites. 

You can vote at any of the listed locations in Erie County.  In recent elections I’ve voted on Grant Street and Hickory Street in Buffalo, in Cheektowaga, and in Clarence.  Get out and vote – explore your county.

Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly