ALBANY - While some North Country Republicans are actively backing the gubernatorial candidacy of Carl Paladino, others are distancing themselves from him.
Paladino's blunt campaign style - focused on steamrolling anyone or anything standing in his way - is gaining momentum with a fed-up electorate.
Backed by prevailing anti-establishment sentiments and Tea Party ground forces, Paladino's anger-driven campaign and divisive rhetoric are forcing Republican officials and incumbents to make an uncomfortable decision. The choice is either to keep Paladino at arm's length or actively support a man who has called Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a Nazi and accused Gov. David A. Paterson of continued drug use.
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro is taking a wait-and-see approach with the Paladino's candidacy.
Sayward said while she would never work against Paladino's bid, she's keeping him at arm's length - especially considering his very conservative stances on social issues like abortion.
"God knows all we want to do is to live our lives and for government to stay out of it and if Carl can take some of that back, all the better," she said. "Do I have concerns? Yes. We've come too far with some of the social issues to back up to a point where it will take another generation to get us back to where we were."
Paladino has also promised to take a baseball bat to the ever-dysfunctional state capitol.
Republican state Sen. Elizabeth O'C Little, R-Queensbury, said she has yet to meet Paladino. She said he's riding a wave of voter negativity about the dysfunction of state government. Little added Paladino has to get specific.
"Cutting 20 percent of government sounds like a good idea, but how would you do it? Would it be in aid to schools that would cause property taxes to go up? We need to talk about those things," she said.