Factories and offices across New York State brighten up those lazy, foggy, crazy summer days. Vacationers prefer beaches and mountains to televisions showing the latest political advertising.
But that’s not stopping Republican candidates for the 23rd congressional district, already making their televised pitches for the August 23 big primary.
Carl Paladino and Nick Langworthy kicked off their first pitches to voters in a sprawling district stretching from southern Erie County through the southern part of Chemung County. That means mega dollars going to TV advertising at stations in Buffalo and Elmira, and maybe Rochester in between. Digital ads and social media loom large in political politics these days, but TV is still king.
Paladino led the parade with his spots calling the 23rd District “Carl Country,” as well as a bumper crop of “Carl Country” signs next to those yellowed “Repeal the Safe Act” signs.
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“He’s one of us,” is how Paladino introduces his candidacy, without needing an “introduction.” Indeed, the least of Paladino’s challenges is in name recognition. Voters in the western end of the district know the candidate for his consistent presence in the headlines (for better or worse), while most voters in the state remember his unsuccessful Republican bid for governor in 2010.
In the new ad, Paladino reminisces about his military service, his business success, and resurrects one of his favorite words to remind Republicans that he never bought into liberal “nonsense.”
Enter Langworthy, which debuted a few days ago on cable and broadcast stations. Langworthy may hold the lofty post of Republican state president, but except for a few insiders, that job doesn’t dominate the counter chatter at the Texas Hot in Wellsville.
So last week, Langworthy also appeared on television, calling himself a “winning conservative” in noting successful GOP lawsuits against Democratic efforts to introduce noncitizen voting and congressional and state elections.
Langworthy also showcases his close political association with former President Donald Trump (as does Paladino). He cares no less about the Jan. 6 committee hearings in Washington, which some say are hurting Trump. Instead, Langworthy notes that the former president recruited him to lead state Republicans and shows the two hands shaking hands at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. It’s no coincidence that Langworthy comes across as shrill, fiery, maybe even angry.
“I think the ardor is working right now,” said an observer close to the process.
This is all fairly common during the intro phase of any campaign, but questions remain about what lies ahead. Is it going to get nasty?
Paladino and Langworthy are old friends. Langworthy, as the brash young Erie County GOP chairman, twisted parliamentary procedure at the 2010 Republican State Convention to gain a Paladino advantage despite old guard support for gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio. Paladino then demolished their guy in the fall primary.
But at some point, the two may drop the warm and fuzzy approach for attack ads. Watch to see if Washington advocacy groups, many swimming in conservative money, take on the “heavyweight” role. If they don’t, it could mean Langworthy and Paladino are both big conservatives, both are true FOTs (Friend of Trump), and either will serve those purposes as a member of the Congress.
Meanwhile, daily, the Langworthy campaign is rolling out new support from city committees, like last week’s significant nods from Hamburg Repubs and Allegany County Chairman Mike Healy. These announcements demonstrate the state president’s close ties to county organizations across the state and allude to those committees that work on his behalf.
Paladino’s team will bring in little, but there’s no doubt that there are real, living voters hiding behind all those “Carl Country” signs. It might be worth visiting Texas Hot to find out what’s really going on.