Like so many establishment Republican candidates this year, Rick Lazio was supposed to have a clear path to the general election.
But things have not worked out that way for the former U.S. representative from Long Island, who lost to Hillary Clinton for Senate in 2000. As some in the party began to grumble about his alleged lack of effectiveness as a candidate, Suffolk County executive Steve Levy decided he wanted the nomination.
There was one problem: Levy was, until March, a Democrat. That did not bother state GOP chair Edward Cox but it did dismay some Republicans at the state party convention. They blocked Levy's bid.
But Lazio's troubles are far from over. Now he faces another Republican challenger: Buffalo multimillionaire Carl Paladino who has assumed the Tea Party mantle.
Both Lazio and Paladino have spent a sizable chunk of their campaign assailing the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero. Lazio's web site does not have the customary rundown of his stands on various issues but on its home page features both a petition calling on Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (the Democratic gubernatorial candidate) to investigate the mosque and a letter to Cuomo challenging him to a debate about the Islamic center.
For his part, Paladino has called for the state to seize the land intended for the Islamic center under eminent domain, a stand that according to the Wall Street Journal, dismays some Tea Party adherents who oppose eminent domain even more than they dislike the mosque.
The primary race for governor is reflected in a contest for lieutenant governor. Lazio's pick, Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards, will face off against Paladino's choice, former New York City Councilmember and frequent Republican candidate Thomas Ognibene.
Lazio also faces a challenge to his bid for the Conservative Party nomination, this one from West Seneca attorney Ralph Lorigo. Lorigo accuses Lazio of being "a moderate Republican," while he claims to hold "pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and traditional marriage views."
Whoever emerges after all this, will face daunting odds in the race against Andrew Cuomo and running mate Robert Duffy in November.
The Attorney General Race
For Democrats this year, the marquee race involves state attorney general. Five Democrats have debated their way across the state, leafleting, robocalling and buying ad time, all in an effort to win Cuomo's job. With none of the candidates having much of a statewide profile before the campaign began -- and with little indication the voters have focused on them -- the race, most observers believe, remains up for grabs.
(For more on the race for attorney general, see Attorney General Candidates Struggle to Break Away from the Pack and Can the Next Attorney General Fix Albany?.)
Whoever emerges triumphant will go on to face Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan in November. Donovan has two things going for him: He does not have a primary, and he has support from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who's already given him $37,800 and can, of course, afford to give a lot more.
Neither Cuomo nor his lieutenant governor pick, Duffy, face a primary challenger.
And no Democrat signed on to challenge State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a former state legislator from Long Island who was appointed to the job after Alan Hevesi resigned. DiNapoli's general election opponent, Harry Wilson, who worked in finance, also has no primary.
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