State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy emerged victorious over bombastic businessman Carl Palladino after an ugly Republican primary in the redrawn Buffalo-area 23rd Congressional District.
Palladino easily carried his home base in Erie County, but was swamped by Langworthy in the rural counties.
With 93 percent of precincts counted, Langworthy had 51.1 percent of the vote, while Palladino had 46.9 percent, according to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections early Wednesday.
The fury of the contest forced the one-time conservative allies to give each other derisive nicknames, with Langworthy calling Palladino “Scary Carl” for refusing to debate, while Palladino countered with “Liar Langworthy.”
Upstate Rep. Elise Stefanik, the most powerful New York Republican in the House, has thrown her weight behind Palladino, the party’s 2010 gubernatorial nominee, despite a history of racist and bigoted remarks — which include praising Adolf Hitler. wish former President Barack Obama to die of mad cow disease and hope former First Lady Michelle Obama lives in a cave with a gorilla.
But much of the GOP establishment rallied around Langworthy, worried that Palladino’s caustic behavior would hurt the party in blue-leaning New York.
Former President Donald Trump — who knows both men well — remained neutral.
During the campaign, it was also revealed that Palladino had a convicted sex offender on his company’s payroll who worked as his campaign’s “assistant treasurer.” Palladino’s campaign said the name of former inmate Joel Sartori was included in campaign records in error — but he is still employed by Palladino’s company, Ellicott Development.
Palladino, 75, fired back, accusing Langworthy, 41, of using state Republicans and Erie County Republican officials to help his campaign and complaining that his opponent benefited from $1.2 million in “dark money ” by a D.C.-based Super PAC “with ties to RINOs [Republicans in Name Only] Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney, both Never Trumpers.”
Early polls for Paladino, who financed his own campaign, showed him with a double-digit lead.
But insiders said Palladino’s own tracking polls showed the race tightening, with his lead shrinking to 10 points by primary election day — too close for comfort given the unpredictability of voter turnout in the August election.
Sources also said voter turnout for the primary was higher than expected.
“This is the nastiest Republican primary I’ve seen up close in my 40 years of politics,” said Michael Caputo, who served in the Trump administration and is friendly with both men.
Caputo added that he ended up supporting Palladino because he was stunned by Langworthy’s attacks on his one-time benefactor.
The seat opened after Congressman Chris Jacobs announced his retirement following backlash over his support for gun restrictions following the May 14 Buffalo supermarket massacre.