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Conservatives give crucial backing to Paladino

Carl Paladino

ALBANY — The state Conservative Party has given its crucial nomination to tea party Republican Carl Paladino in the race for governor.

Paladino, a Buffalo developer, was interviewed by Conservative leaders before a public vote Wednesday afternoon — and then got into an angry exchange with a newspaper reporter that night and told him, “I’ll take you out, buddy!”

Paladino now has the united support of Conservatives and the GOP against Democratic front-runner Andrew Cuomo, the state attorney general.

Republicans running statewide have needed the Conservative line to attract disaffected Democrats and independents.

Conservative Party nominee Rick Lazio withdrew from the race Monday. He lost the GOP nomination to Paladino in a primary two weeks ago.

The general election is Nov. 2.

Paladino’s aides had to separate him and a New York Post reporter during a five-minute confrontation before a speech Wednesday night.

Post State Editor Fred Dicker had asked Paladino to provide proof of his suggestion to the Politico blog that his Democratic opponent, Andrew Cuomo, had extramarital affairs. Cuomo is divorced from Kerry Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s daughter.

Paladino refused but said he would provide proof “at the appropriate time,” then accused Dicker of being biased for Cuomo. Paladino criticized Dicker because a Post journalist recently went to the home of Paladino’s 10-year-old daughter, who was fathered out of wedlock.

“I’ll take you out, buddy!” Paladino said to Dicker toward the end of the confrontation.

“You’ll take me out?” Dicker responded. “How are you going to do that?”

“Watch,” Paladino said, leaving the scene, the lobby of the Sagamore conference center.

“Are you threatening me?” Dicker shouted as Paladino left.

Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo said afterward that a Post photographer recently put the lens of a camera against the daughter’s bedroom window while she was practicing for a school dance and she has had bouts of crying and has been calling her father every day since.

Paladino told The Associated Press it was the way Dicker “came into my face that was aggravating.” He refused to answer questions after a long, well-received speech to the state Business Council.

Post spokeswoman Suzi Halpin and Cuomo had no comment.