Tonawanda News — Officially, this year’s Republican primary in the state senate’s 62nd District involves two candidates — incumbent George Maziarz, R-Newfane, and challenger Johnny Destino.
There is, however, another figure who has been working hard on this year’s campaign — one-time gubernatorial candidate and longtime Western New York developer Carl Paladino.
Paladino insists he’s less interested in supporting Destino than he is in de-throning Maziarz. In an interview this week, he made one thing clear: He views the 62nd District race as a starting point in a larger campaign aimed at shaking up the status quo in Albany, Republicans and Democrats alike.
“This is an opportunity,” Paladino said, referring to his interest in the 62nd Senate District race. “George is a poster child for all the things that are wrong in Albany.”
Paladino says he did not ask or encourage Destino to enter the race and is not financing his campaign. Paladino freely admits to tapping into his own resources to deliver mailers and purchase ads opposing Maziarz in the week’s leading up to Thursday’s primary. Those pieces of literature have been highly critical, questioning the incumbent’s campaign finances and donations while suggesting, as senator, Maziarz has helped line up patronage positions for dozens of loyal campaign supporters, friends and family members.
Paladino said he’s trying to help voters “connect the dots” when it comes to Maziarz because he wants them to see what he sees: An 18-year incumbent and “Republican in name only” who is more interested in self-preservation than serving the people. He contends Maziarz has had plenty of time to address issues that matter — taxes, utility costs, jobs — but hasn’t delivered, in part, because he’s too busy cozying up to campaign donors and political power players downstate.