Sept. 30, 2010— -- Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino threatened to "take out" a reporter following a heated exchange, spotlighting his reputation for making impulsive and outlandish comments.
The dustup occurred Wednesday when New York Post State Editor Fredric Dicker asked Paladino to prove his accusation that Democratic challenger Andrew Cuomo cheated on his ex-wife while the couple were still married.
"What evidence do you have for something most people would consider a smear?" Dicker asked.
Rather than respond to the question, Paladino accused Dicker of sending a "goon" to photograph his young daughter, who was born to a mistress and kept secret from his wife for a decade.
"You send another goon to my daughter's house and I'll take you out, buddy!" Paladino told Dicker.
Pushed again for proof of the accusation against Cuomo, Paladino told the Post, "At the appropriate time you will hear it."
On Wednesday, Paladino accused Cuomo of cheating on then wife Kerry Kennedy and challenged the media to find dirt on the Democrat instead of him.
"Has anybody asked Andrew Cuomo about his paramours?" Paladino asked Politico.com in an interview.
Cuomo has never previously been publicly accused of infidelity.
Calls and emails to the Paladino camp were not returned today, but the campaign put out a press release calling conduct by the Post and Dicker "unacceptable" for trying to photograph his 10-year-old daughter.
"We believe this conduct puts Carl Paladino's daughter in harm's way, susceptible to kidnapping or sexual predators. This behavior by The New York Post and their senior political editor Fred Dicker is unacceptable. Endangering the safety of a 10-year-old child is repugnant," read the statement.
Paladino's Blustery Style Getting Him Plenty of Attention
"We challenge Fred Dicker to ask Andrew Cuomo this question on the record, since it has been posed repeatedly to Carl Paladino: 'Did you engage in extramarital relationships while you were married?' A simple 'Yes' or 'No' will suffice."
Post editor Col Allan denied today that the Post sent a photograph to take pictures of Paladino's daughter.
The allegations against Cuomo and the argument with Dicker are the most recent in a series of scandal-making flare-ups for Paladino that includes inappropriate emails, offensive comments, and details about his personal life.
"In a short amount of time, he's developed a reputation for being fast and loose with the facts," said Stu Rothenberg, editor of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report.
"He's one of these candidates who anything he says or does is an attempt to mix it up. In short, he's a loose cannon," he said.
In a state where Republican candidates are typically moderate, Paladino promised to "take a baseball bat to Albany." His tough talking style gave him an easy victory in the Republican primary over former congressman Rick Lazio.
Paladino's reputation for ignoring political correctness, sometimes at the risk of being offensive, earned him the backing of the Tea Party movement.
When Paladino announced his candidacy a series of emails he wrote or forwarded came to light, which included pornographic images including bestiality and profane and racist language.
One email shows a group of black men running in front of an airplane with the caption: "run n---ers run." Another email includes a doctored image of President Obama and Michelle Obama dressed like a pimp and a prostitute. Still another published email contains a photograph depicting a woman engaged in a sex act with a horse.
It was not until early this month that Paladino apologized for sending the emails to those who "found them offensive" and said they were only intended for his friends.
"The real obscenity is Albany," Paladino told CNN when asked about the emails.
Paladino also described state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is Jewish, as an "Antichrist or Hitler."
The existence of the emails came out early in the primary but did not keep Paladino from winning the nomination, nor did news that the real estate mogul had carried on an extramarital affair and had a love child.
Paladino has been married for 40 years, but has a 10-year-old daughter with a former employee. Paladino told his children, but did not reveal the daughter to his wife until last year, when his youngest son Patrick tied in a car accident.
"No matter what, he's getting a lot of print," said Scott Levenson, president of New York political consulting firm the Advance Group. "Someone with no recognition is getting tons of recognition. In this environment where people are tired of politics as usual, he's anything but politics as usual."
In a Marist College poll released today, Cuomo receives the support of 53 percent of likely voters in New York State to Republican opponent Carl Paladino's 38 percent.