Lazio ends 3rd-party bid for governor

By Michael Gormley-Associated Press

NEW YORK | The unpredictable race for governor in New York got wilder Monday after Conservative Party candidate Rick Lazio withdrew, boosting the chances of the “tea party” Republican who is taking on the once-unassailable Democratic nominee, Andrew M. Cuomo.

Going against political tradition, however, Mr. Lazio refused to endorse Carl Paladino, the Buffalo developer who beat Mr. Lazio in the Republican primary. Both Republican and Conservative leaders have tried to derail Mr. Paladino‘s campaign, which has been fueled by rhetoric including his intention to take “a baseball bat to Albany.”

“I look at the two major-party candidates, and I see flawed men,” Mr. Lazio said. “Flawed in terms of personal character and flawed in a commitment to ideas and principles that will restore growth and pride to our state.”

Still, the former congressman’s withdrawal before Tuesday’s deadline allows the Conservative Party to choose a replacement. That replacement could be Mr. Paladino unless someone else is nominated, Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long said in an interview. Mr. Paladino said Monday he will seek the nomination.

Mr. Lazio is expected to be nominated to a judgeship, which he doesn’t have to accept. That, however, is the legal way to drop off the ballot.

Steven Greenberg of the Siena College Poll said Mr. Lazio‘s move is a major boost to Mr. Paladino.

“That would unite the Republican and Conservative lines, which is key to a Republican winning statewide office,” he said.

Mr. Cuomo has the Independence Party line and the Green Party’s support. Mr. Paladino has his own Taxpayers party line to attract tea party activists.

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