BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) Their backgrounds are quite different. Carl Paladino is a successful real estate developer from Buffalo who's never held elected office. Tom Ognibene is a former New York City Council minority leader from Queens who also ran for mayor. But, like Paladino, Ognibene is known for speaking his mind.
"He's one of those straight up guys who tells you exactly how he feels at any given time so we sort of hit it off," says Paladino of his choice for Lt. Governor, "We're very similar on our policies, he has great integrity, great character, great knowledge of government."
Ognibene has close ties to the Conservative party and had been rumored for a couple of months to be a potential running mate for Paladino's campaign for governor. Paladino made the choice official this week just as the petitioning process is getting underway. "We're just amazed in the last week since the convention the turnout of volunteers to carry our petitions has been huge," says Paladino.
Paladino needs to collect 15,000 valid signatures from registered Republicans to get on the September primary ballot. Tuesday was the first official day of petitioning and volunteers were busy preparing petitions at Paladino's campaign headquarters in the Ellicott Square Building in downtown Buffalo.
Endorsed Republican candidate Rick Lazio though is asking party members not to sign Paladino's petition. "Lazio urging them not to sign our petitions must mean we must be a big threat to them right now," says Paladino with a laugh.
Paladino volunteers were under-going petition training on Tuesday night. The campaign wants to make sure the volunteers know the correct procedures so that petitions don't end up getting thrown out because of invalid signatures.