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Bloomberg boosts Cuomo in N.Y. gov race

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has endorsed Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the New York governor's race, and Cuomo says he is taking a new poll with "a grain of salt."
/ Source: The Associated Press

Front-running Democrat Andrew Cuomo got a potential boost Wednesday in the New York governor's race with an endorsement from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, while a new poll showed tea party Republican Carl Paladino closing in on him.

"New Yorkers are angry with Albany, and I think for good reason," said Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned independent, as he endorsed Cuomo in Manhattan, "but anger is not a governing strategy. We need real change — we need new strategies, we need independent leadership."

The Quinnipiac poll showed Cuomo with a 49 percent to 43 percent lead among likely New York voters. Seven percent were undecided.

Paladino has sought to ride a wave of voter anger at Albany's high taxes, high spending and string of corruption cases in state government, all of which is controlled by Democrats.

"The question was whether Carl Paladino would get a bounce from his big Republican primary victory. The answer is yes," said Quinnipiac polling Director Maurice Carroll.

The poll found the Buffalo developer had 54 percent of the support of women voters to Cuomo's 34 percent. Men supported Cuomo, the one-term attorney general, 49 percent to 46 percent.

Cuomo said he takes the poll results "with a grain of salt, frankly ... My opponent has an increase, which I think is to be expected. He had a primary win last week. He got a lot of press. The amount of press you get often shows up in polls. But the campaign has just started."

The survey's gender breakdown showed a higher level of participation by men than has historically occurred in New York's gubernatorial elections, however. Fifty-seven percent of the Quinnipiac poll respondents were men, but recent governor's race exit polls conducted in the state by The Associated Press have found the actual voting split about evenly between men and women.

Michael Caputo, Paladino's campaign manager, responded to the Bloomberg endorsement by criticizing the mayor and Cuomo as like-minded politicians at odds with Paladino's views.

Caputo said Bloomberg "subverted the will of the people on term limits" when he persuaded City Council in 2008 to change the law so he could run for a third, four-year term. Paladino backs eight-year term limits.

Meanwhile, Rick Lazio would not say if he will drop his third-party run against Cuomo and Paladino, who defeated the former congressman in the GOP primary. The state Conservative party chairman said earlier in the day he was discussing the possibility with Lazio to consolidate support around Paladino. The Conservative line has been important for Republicans running in the heavily Democratic state.

Lazio spoke to a gathering of newspaper editors at the New York Associated Press annual meeting near Albany. He said he would decide in coming days whether to stay in the race and believes a Conservative candidate can win in New York.

Quinnipiac found that the largest share of those polled — 41 percent — said the most important quality in a candidate is the ability to bring change. Lazio was not included in the poll.

"Attorney General Andrew Cuomo might be a victim of his own excess," Carroll said. "Politicians and polls have depicted him so relentlessly as a sure thing that he might be a victim of the 'throw the bums out' attitude that hits incumbents in this angry year."

Paladino shocked the GOP by winning the primary over Lazio, the party's designee.

Carroll said Paladino's support is boosted by conservative voters and those who are motivated to vote in November.

In previous polls of registered voters, Cuomo has held a better than 2-to-1 edge. Cuomo also has more than $20 million in his campaign account as of the latest filings last summer, although Paladino — a millionaire — is now starting to raise cash to add to the more than $10 million of his own money he has pledged to spend.

The poll questioned 751 likely voters from last Thursday 16 to Monday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.