In his short campaign for Congress, Buffalo, New York, businessman Carl Paladino has had to explain why he shared a conspiracy theory about mass shootings on Facebook and clarify that, no, he is not a supporter of Adolf Hitler.
Now the Republican Party’s 2018 nominee for New York attorney general is out with a statement calling Paladino a “straight-up, old-school racist.”
“There are many times where people have called one Republican or another a racist, and I have explained to those accusers why they were wrong,” Keith Wofford, who is Black, said in a statement Friday. “But Carl Paladino is a racist. Not ‘racially insensitive’; not ‘unsophisticated’; a straight-up, old-school racist.”
Wofford, who grew up in Buffalo and is now a bankruptcy lawyer in New York City, said his conclusions are based on personal experience, from the way that Paladino treated him when he ran for attorney general.
“Other Republicans, in fact, all of them that I know, were disgusted by Carl’s racism toward me, and rejected it. The people of Western New York and the Southern Tier know Carl is racist, and they deserve better,” he added.
Wofford didn’t return a request for more information on his interactions with Paladino.
Paladino also did not immediately return a request for comment.
Paladino is running in the state’s newly redrawn 23rd District, which includes a swath of rural areas. He received a boost of support after Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.) announced he was retiring. Jacobs is currently in the 27th District but was going to run for the 23rd. He faced intense backlash from his party, however, after announcing his support for stronger gun control laws.
Paladino then quickly picked up support from Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the third-ranking House Republican, who praised him as “a job creator and conservative outsider.”
Paladino, a real estate developer who ran for governor in 2010, was a strong backer of Donald Trump from the beginning. He’s essentially the Trump of Buffalo in both politics and personality.
In August 2017, Paladino was kicked off the Buffalo school board for improperly disclosing private board matters. But the real outrage over his position started months earlier, in December, over racist comments he made about then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
The local publication Artvoice asked Paladino and other Buffalonians about their hopes for 2017. Paladino used the opportunity to call Michelle Obama a man who should live with gorillas and said he hoped Barack Obama died of mad cow disease.