By Roger J. Stone

Ed Cox
Former New York U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato, while theoretically a Republican, is a major fundraiser for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. D'Amato is hoping his perceived relationship with Cuomo will pay off for Park Avenue Strategies, D'Amato's lobbying firm which peddles influence in Albany and Washington. Why Cuomo, who needs to be seen as a reformer, is willing to be seen with a low-life like D'Amato is beyond me. D'Amato has forced his long time political consultant Arthur Finklestein on former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio's campaign for Governor on the theory that the former 3-term Congressman turned banking lobbyist, is a weak opponent for Cuomo. Lazio is having problems raising money and his candidacy is further compounded by the fact that while Cuomo was formulating the Sub-Prime mortgage disaster at HUD, Lazio was a member of the House Banking committee with oversight and never said a thing. New York allows cross-endorsement by multiple parties with the nominee receiving the cumulative vote total cast on all party lines. Thus, the small but influential Conservative and Independence parties are important partners for the major parties. While Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is now challenging Lazio for the GOP nod, Levy's anti-gun, pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage positions make him a non-starter with the influential Conservative Party. Lazio is also a supporter of abortion rights creating a vacuum for social conservatives within the Republican Party and making many Conservative Party members unhappy with that parties' preliminary decision to nominate Lazio. Levy was also a financial backer of New York's left wing Assembly Speaker Sheldon "Shelly" Silver, a wholly-owned stooge of the Trial Bar, pouring thousands into Shelly's campaign accounts. GOP primary voters hate Silver.

Carl Paladino
The possibility of Lazio, who has no money and no future fundraising capability, crumbling, coupled with the potential entry of wildcard Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, a pro-life, pro-gun rights, anti-gay marriage conservative who says he is prepared to spend up to $10 Million for an "outsider" bid for Governor pitched around economic issues, makes the coming contest all the more interesting. Supporters are already calling Paladino the Italian Ronald Reagan for his direct nature and oratorical skills. Even if Levy can somehow, with the help of my old friend and new State Republican Chairman Ed Cox, win the 51% of the GOP convention needed to enter the primary, he is unlikely to prevail over the hard charging Paladino who would have superior appeal to party social Conservatives, and Republicans unhappy about nominating a Democrat in the primary. Now that he is shut out of the Conservative Party, Paladino is planning to petition a Tea Party oriented line onto the ballot to attract the votes of conservative Democrats and Independents.