MANCHESTER, N.H. (Jan.7, 2012) — Political maverick Carl Paladino arrived from Buffalo, N.Y., in New Hampshire to start prepping for a new role as the Western New York campaign coordinator for the Newt Gingrich campaign.
“I want to meet these policy people and talk to them and open up a dialogue so I know where we’re headed on issues,” Paladino said in an interview in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop near Gingrich’s New Hampshire headquarters.
Paladino, who incited Tea Party excitement in his 2010 run for governor of New York, came Saturday morning with four fellow New Yorkers. He will be in New Hampshire until Monday, the day before the primary, and he hopes to meet with Gingrich advisors and the candidate himself. He has not ever met Gingrich in person nor talked to him directly, though Gingrich endorsed Paladino in his 2010 bid for New York governor. Others in Paladino’s group hope to spend the next few days voicing the concerns of New York voters to Gingrich and the other Republican candidates.
Paladino has said he is supporting Gingrich because of his anti-establishment stance and in-depth knowledge on the issues. He can also relate to Gingrich’s style, Paladino said. “He’s not going to play by that whole set of rules,” Paladino said. “He’s not going to play games. He’s an in-your-face type of guy — not afraid. That’s my kind of guy.”
When he heads Gingrich’s campaign in Western New York, Paladino said, he hopes to use that anti-establishment message to draw New York voters to Gingrich. Paladino’s own success in 2010 among Western New York voters shows that kind of message gets support.
Four other New Yorkers joined Paladino on his journey to New Hampshire. They are Gary Perry, a sales representative from Waverley, N.Y.; Donna McCartney, secretary of the Erie County GOP; Paul Gallo, a resident of Rochester, N.Y. and worker for Gingrich’s national campaign; and Paladino supporter Al Belardinelli, of Endwell, N.Y.
Sales representative Perry supported Paladino in the governor’s race. He has not decided whom to vote for in the GOP primary. But, he said, he traveled to New Hampshire to “capture the ear of the candidates.”
He and the other New Yorkers will take advantage of New Hampshire’s up-close retail politics to meet and talk directly to the candidates. Perry said he hopes to make contacts and get a dialogue going with the candidates now to ensure the concerns of New York voters are heard in time for the New York’s primary on April 24.
That’s also the reason Al Belardinelli joined Paladino in New Hampshire. He wants to make sure each candidate truly listens to the concerns of New York voters, he said. Belardinelli said he was was excited by the chance to travel with Paladino to New Hampshire. “I believe in Mr. Paladino, and I believe his heart is in helping New York State,” he said.
Since New Yorkers don’t have the same opportunity to meet and speak to candidates face to face that New Hampshire voters enjoy, Belardinelli wants to get his message out as early as possible.
Belardinelli said, “We never get a chance to get that experience. New Yorkers have something to say. And it’s too bad we can’t do this type of stuff in New York.”
(Kathleen Ronayne, a senior with dual majors in newspaper journalism and politic science, is reporting on the New Hampshire primary for The Buffalo News.)