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Brown and Paladino take the gloves off

The mayoral primary once dismissed as a snoozer is all of a sudden a screamer.

Before I say another word, I implore you to listen to this audio clip of Brown's exchange Tuesday with News reporter Brian Meyer. Intense, telling stuff. 

Done? OK, let's get to the latest developments.

For starters, we have Carl Paladino jumping into the primary -- wallet open, words flying.

It's not like "Mad Dog," and I say that with a smile, to sit on the sidelines, so I'm not surprised he's joined in the fun 'n' games. He's made no secret of his disdain for Mayor Byron Brown, but Mickey Kearns had left him cold -- at least until now.

Paladino told News political reporter Bob McCarthy, in a story published today:

"I was going to sit this one out because I was disgusted by the whole thing," he said Tuesday. "But I can't."

In typical fashion, Paladino has come out with guns blazing -- an incendiary radio spot airing on more than a half-dozen stations that rips just about everyone in sight -- Andrew Rudnick, Brian Davis and, of course, the mayor -- and concludes with him telling voters: "If we really want to fight crime, start with City Hall."

Take a listen.  But, first, hide the children.

Paladino has promised to follow up with a round of television commercials, and he said others are "coming out of the woodwork" to help finance the Kearns campaign.

This is all good news for Kearns, whose fund-raising has picked up in recent weeks, but still lags waaaaaaaaaay behind Brown. Paladino isn't saying how much he'll spend on behalf of Kearns, but he dropped $64,500 four years ago on Kevin Helfer, the Republican candidate for mayor.

Meanwhile, WGRZ News has released a poll showing the race is neck and neck.

I'm no fan of the Red Coats, and the type of robo-polling used by the pollster isn't exactly the best sampling money can buy. But in the absence of any other polling data released in the public domain, I figure it's worth sneaking a peak.

The poll, taken last week before Sunday's bombshell and the followup Monday, had Brown at 48 percent, Kearns at 47 percent, with 5 percent undecided. The poll's margin of error was 4.2 percent, meaning the race is a statistical dead heat. 

According to the poll, black voters are going for Brown 86-13 percent, while Kearns leads among whites 64-29 percent.

Here are the detailed numbers.

Given the closeness of the numbers, and the demographic bases the candidates are drawing from, the pollster suggests it will come down to turnout.

If any combination of women, seniors, blacks, the less-educated and the less-affluent vote in larger numbers than SurveyUSA here forecasts, Brown wins. If any combination of men, younger voters, whites, the more educated and the more affluent vote in larger numbers than SurveyUSA here forecasts, Kearns wins.

For the record, Brown's people say they don't put much stock in the poll.

"We really question the validity of those numbers," said spokesman Peter Cutler. "It is clear from our analysis of the methodology that the way they sampled voters is flawed. It does not present an accurate

Duly noted.

Finally, when I heard Brown complain Tuesday about "dirty politics" at an impromptu press conference in which he walked out on reporters while they were still posing questions, I couldn't help but think back to what Brown's political posse was up to a year ago.

You remember, the smear campaign against Sam Hoyt.

Responsible New York's fingerprints were all over the effort. While longtime Hoyt antagonist Steve Pigeon is widely regarded as the architect of the attack campaign, financed with Tom Golisano's money, you'd be hard pressed to find someone credible in the political community who thinks the Brown camp, starting with Steve Casey, wasn't in on the action, given (1) the deep animosity between the mayor and assemblyman and (2) the political alliance between Brown/Casey and Golisano/Pigeon.

The mayor may be correct in saying the timing of the most-recent round of allegations reeks of politics. But that's a separate issue from their merit.

Like it or not, the fallout from the One Sunset scandal has emerged as a major campaign issue. According to the WGRZ poll, voters supporting Kearns rank it their No. 1 issue.

Brown has had more than three months to defuse the issue, but he and his political team have instead added fuel to the fire. In the process, they have helped give life to what had been a moribund campaign by Kearns.

Hoyt, by contrast, fessed up and kept his cool under fire last fall, and it no doubt helped him handily defeat the Golisano-Pigeon-Brown-Casey candidate.

Brown is clearly in a snit, given the way he's handled the press this past week, even though the hand he's been dealt is child's play compared to the viciousness that Hoyt had to contend with last year. I mean, the mayor's political enemies aren't publishing his private e-mails or demanding he resign lest they release more of them.

I imagine Casey, even moreso than Brown, is seething over recent developments, but you know what they say: "What goes around, comes around."


City Hall | One Sunset | Politics
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