Carl Paladino has admitted defeat in the race for Governor of New York. He also admitted something else regarding his many media gaffes.
“Something I learned on this campaign: you don’t want the media to notice you. It’s not pretty,” Paladino told his supporters and a few hecklers at his election night party at a Buffalo hotel.
Paladino gained much of his fame and infamy playing the media card. His transition from outsider-Tea-Party-maverick to a viable Republican nominee had a lot to do with his loudmouth media tactics and outlandish public statements.
In the end, however, the strategy failed, and his support dwindled after he made anti-gay remarks in New York City and made headlines for intimidating a reporter.
Despite the controversy, New Yorkers were addicted to Paladino. People loved him or loved to hate him, and his supporters were not your average Republicans.
In his concession speech, Paladino told his supporters “while the Tea Party brought me here, the Republican party stood us in a brutal battle against the status quo.”
This statement roused a weak and delayed applause. It reminded me of the reaction to the victorious Republicans who took the mic before Paladino: people just kept drinking and talking as the politicians spoke of victory and conservative values.
Consider Kailee Tkacs. She says she is pro-choice and has no problems with gay people. She says she wants change in New York’s state government.
“I’m here because I’m mad as hell, and I love Carl Paladino,” said Tkacs, who is a college Republican at the University of Buffalo.
When asked about the news that Paladino had lost the race despite support from angry conservatives and disgruntled Western New Yorkers, Tkacs simply reiterated her position.
“That makes me mad as hell!” she proclaimed before taking another sip of wine.
Tkacs said that, like many of Paladino’s supporters, she is not a social conservative. She just wants to see reform in state government.
Such is the mood here at Paladino’s party. The bar is open and the theme to Top Gun is blasting from the speakers beside a giant television screen showing Fox News election coverage.
Some people cheered when the local party chairman announced that the Republicans took the House of Representatives, but their response lacked energy and cohesion. As far as I can tell, people are not here to be Republicans. They are here to be Tea Partiers or drunken fans of a maverick candidate. They are here for Carl Paladino, and they still are mad as hell.