Cuomo, Paladino prepare to square off for Governor's seat

Last Tuesday, the Republican gubernatorial primary election yielded a clear two-man race for the New York governor's seat: Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino will vie for the position.

Paladino's victory came as an upset to party-backed candidate Rick Lazio; several polls had predicted Lazio's victory ahead of the election. Paladino, a developer and political activist from Buffalo, drew on support from New York's Tea Party movement.

Lazio, who formerly represented New York's 2nd Congressional district, remains on the gubernatorial ballot as a Conservative candidate.

The Democratic Party's nomination of Andrew Cuomo was uncontested after Gov. David Paterson's decision to withdraw from the race in late February. Cuomo has been the state attorney general of New York since 2007 and was the state's secretary of housing and urban development during the Clinton administration.

According to The New York Times, poll results from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released on Wednesday indicate that Cuomo leads Paladino by just 49 percent to 43 percent with weeks to Election Day.

According to the Times article, the results indicate that the race has become much closer than earlier polls and analyses were suggesting before Paladino's win.

Jeffrey Hock, chair of the political science department, said he disagrees with that analysis. "Polls overstate how close the race is," he said. "The problem is the division within the Republican Party. Rick Lazio on the ballot could draw a lot of votes away from Paladino."

"I feel like it's a done deal," said Josephine Lukito, a junior political science and communication major, about the upcoming election.

Hours after the poll results were released, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his endorsement of Cuomo.

The gubernatorial race takes on particular importance as its outcome will affect the future of the SUNY system. As an executive department of New York, the governor can directly control funding for SUNY schools.

Both campaigns have expressed their take on the public school system, the SUNY system and the Regents system.

According to an agenda on the Cuomo campaign's website, "... [New York] should continue to allow SUNY to have shared authority for approving charter schools with the Board of Regents - which to its credit has been more supportive of charter schools in recent years."

Cuomo also cited the important economic influence of the SUNY and CUNY systems, which have a combined 733,000 total students. As attorney general, Cuomo developed a code that aims to protect SUNY students from the predatory practices of credit card companies.

Paladino has been a strong supporter of the University at Buffalo. According to his campaign website, "Carl strongly support [sic] the State University at Buffalo 2020 plan and similar programs for other higher education institutions in the state to be able to grow in both size and student population without State intrusion."

The Paladino campaign also states that if elected, Paladino will demand the resignation of the State Board of Regents. "As Governor, Carl will accept the resignation of those who think protecting union leaders is more important than not leaving any children behind," the site states.

Paladino also said at a SUNY Oneonta rally that he would "stop highly subsidizing" out-of-state students. His main campaign rhetoric has revolved around the idea of "taking a baseball bat to Albany."

For running mates who would serve as lieutenant governors, Andrew Cuomo has chosen Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy and Carl Paladino has chosen Chautauqua County executive Greg Edwards.

"As a Rochesterian, I'm strongly in favor of Robert Duffy," said Humza Arschad, a senior international relations and political science major.

Election Day will be on Nov. 2 and will coincide with polling for all five other statewide elections for the first time since 1917.