Prior to the first gubernatorial debates, few people outside of the Capital Region knew who Warren Redlich was or that he was running for the state’s top office.
But with Republican Carl Paladino rapidly falling in the polls, the Libertarian candidate for governor found himself speaking before a burgeoning audience of fiscal conservatives when the forum touched off at Hofstra University last week. Now Redlich, a member of the Guilderland Town Board, is aiming to attract even more than the 50,000 votes he’ll need to secure the Libertarians a spot on ballot for the next four years.
In fact, he’s hoping Paladino’s plummeting popularity among voters can boost his popularity enough to at least finish second to front-runner Andrew Cuomo. Or maybe even better.
“If Carl Paladino stands aside, I’m no longer a long shot,” he said.
Redlich, who is among five third-party candidates vying for the governor’s office, garnered generally positive remarks in the news media following a debate that some characterized as a circus. His platform of strict fiscal conservatism is seemingly drawing socially moderate Republicans and tea party followers to his camp, as was evidenced by a sudden influx of followers on the 44-year-old attorney’s Facebook profile.
Since the debate, he’s been quoted in most of the state’s major metropolitan newspapers and has appeared on national television. He’s traveled from Manhattan to Rochester for interviews and is garnering a second look by many voters disgusted by the prospect of voting for the major party candidates — not bad for a campaign that has about $10,000 in its coffers.
“Andrew Cuomo has 856 [campaign] contributions more than that,” he said.
Running a lean campaign, however, dovetails nicely with Redlich’s message: End the wasteful spending. Redlich’s attention is almost solely focused on the state’s fiscal woes rather than the social issues that often receive more attention from the major parties.
“I focus on the fact that Republicans and Democrats aren’t delivering,” he said. “They love the fights over social issues because that distracts people from the fact that they’re wasting our money.”
Redlich’s plan for New York isn’t one that is likely to gain him friends in the upper echelons of state government. His top plan is to introduce a general salary cap for bureaucrats, so that they couldn’t earn more than $100,000 annually or receive a pension greater than $75,000.
He points to the bloated salaries now paid for on the public dime: A librarian in Manhattan earning $689,000 per year and a conductor on the Long Island Railroad earning an annual pay of $239,000. In all, he said roughly 110,000 bureaucrats throughout the state earn more than $100,000.
“Capping those salaries alone would save $3 billion,” he said.
Redlich is also calling for an end to what he calls “corporate welfare crony capitalism.” In short, he said the spending for so-called economic development throughout the state should be eliminated, since it’s most often given to well-connected companies that aren’t exactly short on funds.
He also proposes to eliminate many of the smaller agencies throughout the state. For instance, he said groups like the state Commission on Corrections or the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission could be dissolved without having a negative impact on state residents.
Redlich is also gunning for larger agencies. He sees no need to continue the state Thruway Authority and is in favor of eliminating the tolls that go to support it; he regards the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority as one that has good intentions, but hasn’t really delivered anything to justify the spending it receives.
“There are good people trying to do good things,” he said, “but in the end we only have so much money.”
Of course, Redlich is keenly aware that his proposed cuts would face strong opposition in the halls of state government. That’s why he is making an election pledge to aid the campaign of any candidate that runs against an incumbent opposing his measures.
“Andrew [Cuomo] has a magic wand and Carl [Paladino] has a magic baseball bat to deal with these issues,” he said. “I’m going with a carrot and stick — persuasion.”