Ex-gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino says he plans to spend whatever it takes to capture a Western New York Congressional seat this year, even as scandals continue to swirl around his nascent campaign.
“I’ve already put $300,000 into the [campaign] account,” Paladino told The Post. “I am very confident.”
The upstate real estate developer is worth an estimated $150 million which he is preparing to deploy in his primary fight against GOP state chairman Nick Langworthy for the 23rd congressional district in western New York.
On Thursday, Paladino sparked outrage after comments resurfaced in which he appeared to laud Adolf Hitler, calling him “the kind of leader we need today.”
“We need somebody inspirational. We need somebody that is a doer, has been there and done it,” Paladino added of der Führer. The remarks — taken from a Feb 2021 radio interview — were unearthed by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters on Wednesday.
Paladino told The Post he had been taken out of context, yet he defended the offensive statements he had made in the past about former President Barack Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama.
In 2016 Paladino said he hoped President Obama would die of Mad Cow Disease and that First Lady Michelle Obama should “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.” He later apologized for the remarks — but took a more defiant tone when questioned about them this week.
When asked if he regretted the comments, Paladino said “no.”
“I stand responsible for what I said. I said them in a humorous vein … most people laughed at it, they got a kick out of it,” Paladino said.
“Oh I’ll cause trouble, there is no question about that, at the appropriate time and on the appropriate issues,” the 75-year-old real estate developer told The Post when asked about his plans for Congress.
The solidly Republican 23d district has been represented by Rep. Chis Jacobs since 2020. Jacobs abruptly dropped plans this week to seek reelection, after severe blowback from his own party for supporting gun control after a white supremacist gunman left 10 dead at a Buffalo supermarket.
The sudden announcement left an opening for Paladino, who took a decidedly different approach to the issue than Jacobs.
“The best gun control is going to be when we devote more resources to mental illness. That is what is behind all this,” Paladino said, brushing aside any suggestion of new restrictions.
“I taught my children about weapons [when they were] at a very young and age,” Paladino continued saying his own kids were shooting guns “in their early teens” — with parental guidance, he was quick to add.
Paladino shook up state politics in 2010 when he defeated GOP favorite, then-US Rep. Rick Lazio, in the Republican primary for governor. Though he lost badly to former Gov. Cuomo, he carried much of the new district he now seeks to represent.
His congressional bid has received the endorsement of Rep. Elise Stefanik — the state’s most powerful elected Republican and a staunch backer of former President Trump, who is also close to Paladino — serving as his campaign’s co-chairman for New York in 2016.
If Paladino wins a spot in the US House of Representatives, he says he won’t be in lockstep with his fellow Republicans, and couldn’t even say for sure if he would vote for GOP leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, to serve as Speaker should Republicans retake the chamber. Paladino said he was “looking forward” to meeting with McCarthy at some point.
An average of voting patterns from the 2016 and 2020 elections show district residents sided with the GOP more than 55% of the time. Whoever wins the Aug. 23 primary is almost certain to go on to Congress next year.