ALBANY — Firebrand Republican Carl Paladino is back in New York politics and vows to undercut the Republican Party if it doesn't move to the right against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"New York state is looking for real leadership," Paladino said in an interview Monday, days after the Republican Party scored some important suburban wins in last week's elections to strengthen their hand for the 2014 elections.
"If it's me, fine. But I will give everyone else a chance," he said.
If no one shows true fiscally conservative colors as a Republican, Paladino said he will run as a Conservative Party nominee. Relying partly on "Reagan Democrats," he said he would try to gain more votes than the Republican candidate, which would bump the GOP from the important second spot on ballots for the next four years.
The millionaire developer said he could support another Republican candidate for governor if he or she has sufficient fiscally conservative values grounded in improving the upstate economy.
Potential GOP candidates include Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and state Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin of Rensselaer County.
The Republican nominee will face Cuomo, who remains popular statewide and has a massive $30 million campaign fund.
Paladino said he won't make abortion — which he personally opposes but said he wouldn't try to change — and gay rights, which he supports, part of his test of a Republican candidate.
He says the Republican legislative leaders — Sen. Dean Skelos and Assemblyman Brian Kolb — must also be replaced to combat what he calls the "petri dish of incestuous relationships" in Albany run by New York City Democrats with compliant Republicans.
Although he lost 2-to-1 to Cuomo in 2010, Paladino casts a large shadow among Conservatives, Republicans and in upstate politics. He has led pockets of upstate revolt over Cuomo's gun control measure this year and has criticized the Democrat for doing too little to turn around the upstate economy.