He lost the primary to be the Republican nominee for Governor two weeks ago and now Rick Lazio is officially pulling the plug on his campaign by announcing he's removing his name from the Conservative line on the general election ballot. It's a decision the Republican party has been pushing for since the primary since it's likely the votes that would've gone for Lazio will now go instead to the Republican candidate Carl Paladino.
Removing Lazio's name from the ballot though is no simple process. According to state election law a candidate can only be taken off the ballot at this point for one of three reasons: The candidate moves out of state, the candidate accepts a judicial appointment, or the candidate dies. Lazio is expected to be nominated for a judgeship in the Bronx on Monday night.
Democrat Andrew Cuomo's campaign issued a statement on Monday saying the race is now a choice between "the tea party extremism of Carl Paladino or Andrew Cuomo's record of fighting corruption, standing up for a woman's right to choose, and his detailed plans to create jobs."
Paladino's campaign issued a statement late in the day saying, "Carl has the highest respect for Rick Lazio as a person and a public official and we all wish him well in his future endeavors. Carl is seeking Conservative Party support which is a decision for the Party leadership in the days ahead."
At his news conference ending his campaign, Lazio chose not to endorse any other candidate. "I look at the two major party candidates and I see flawed individuals," said Lazio, "Flaws in terms of public character, flawed in terms of commitment to ideas and principles that will restore growth and pride in our great state."
Erie County Conservative party chairman Ralph Lorigo is embracing Paladino and Lorigo expects Paladino to be named as the new Conservative candidate for governor at a party re-organization meeting on Wednesday. "Carl is a very good person," says Lorigo, "He's passionate, he's sincere, he's determined. Those are qualities that people want. If he's humanized because he has faults, I say people will accept him."
Paladino's faults though, including offensive emails he admits to forwarding and his child from an extra-marital affair, continue to draw national attention as commentators on the ABC talk show The View took shots at the Buffalo business man on Monday. "He could win if all of his illegitimate children vote," said co-host Joy Behar on the show. The audience laughed at Behar's comment.