Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio said he thinks Gov. David Paterson should resign if allegations about his interference in a domestic violence case involving his top aide are proven true.
Lazio called the latest charges a “sad day for New York,” following the high-profile scandals involving former Comptroller Alan Hevesi and former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. The governor reportedly called the woman that his top aide, David Johnson, was accused of assaulting last Halloween, and she subsequently did not press charges.
“I think the people of New York deserve better than what they’ve been getting,” he said, talking with reporters before the Schenectady County Republican Committee’s Lincoln Day Dinner, held at the Glen Sanders Mansion.
He also called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle the investigation of Paterson’s involvement rather than state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is rumored to be considering a run for governor. He also said Cuomo needs to be open about his political intentions.
“Andrew Cuomo is ducking and bobbing and weaving. He’s sharing his positions with the rich and powerful. It’s time he shared his positions with the average New Yorker he hopes to represent,” Lazio said.
Lazio, who represented part of Long Island in Congress from 1993 to 2000, told the roughly 100 people in attendance at the dinner that he is focused on lowering taxes, cutting government spending and getting the state’s economy moving again.
The state is facing a $50 billion deficit during the next three years and a new scandal seems to pop up every day, Lazio said. Albany is dominated by the Democrats.
“It is a fight for our economic survival. It’s a fight for good character and good government. It’s a fight for decency,” he said.
He said almost 900,000 New Yorkers are out of work and the state has lost more jobs than all but two other states. At the same time, New York pays among the highest property taxes in the nation and the current Legislature passed a budget that increased spending by three times the rate of inflation. New York ranked 49th in the country in a recent survey of 700 CEOs about which states were business-friendly.
All this is adding up to disaster, Lazio said. “Businesses and young people and seniors are fleeing our state.”
He proposes to limit property taxes to no more than 2.5 percent of the value of the land or structure.
Lazio said Republicans should be buoyed by the election of Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey and Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
He said he would take on the special interests in Albany, which he predicts would come at him with nasty negative commercials if he is elected. “I get that and I’m up for that. I’m committed to do the right thing for all of you regardless of the political injury or damage,” he said.
Lazio added that he would stick to his principles — even if that costs him a second term or an opportunity to serve on a national ticket.
Lazio also told reporters earlier that he believes he has a good mix of public- and private-sector experience.
In 2000, he was unsuccessful in his bid for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. Lazio entered the race late, replacing then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who dropped out to battle prostate cancer. Since then, Lazio has worked for JPMorgan Chase.
Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, said Republicans are going to ride a wave of voter disgust with taxing, spending and borrowing to political victory in November, adding that Lazio is the perfect candidate for the top of the ticket.
“He understands we don’t have a revenue problem in the state of New York. We have a spending priority problem,” Tedisco said.
State Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said he wants to run for another term so the Republicans can take back the Senate and help get the state’s fiscal house back in order.
Also making the rounds at the event was Harry Wilson of Johnstown, a Republican candidate for comptroller. Wilson, who has experience with turning around troubled companies as well as asset management, was the only Republican to serve on the president’s task force to overhaul General Motors. Wilson said he wanted to take a broad view of all the state’s spending.
“In general,” he said, “government doesn’t do a good job in reviewing programs that have been in place for a long time.”