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Who doesn’t love a good political comeback story? Well, in the state of New York, the liberal elites lording over the Republican Party certainly are not thrilled.

Former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is running for the U.S. House and he has a very good shot to capture the seat. Paladino is putting hundreds of thousands of his personal fortune into the campaign, showing that he will owe nobody favors if voters choose him as their Congressman.

“I’ve already put $300,000 into the [campaign] account,” Paladino said to the New York Post. “I am very confident.”

Paladino was treated like a punch line during the tea party era, when he lost handily to the perverted political legacy of Andrew Cuomo in 2010. But he boasted major pockets of support despite being unpopular in liberal population centers. In that race, Carl won overwhelmingly in Western New York and the Southern Tier, which the current 23rd Congressional District of New York encompasses. His name ID and popularity among Republican and conservative voters in Upstate New York is through the roof. 

There are many indicators that Paladino’s time has come and the people are ready to put him into Congress. Carl’s campaign has the grassroots support on the ground, as he filed over 3,100 petitions with the State Board of Elections for the Republican Party on Friday. This is nearly 1,000 more than those filed by Paladino’s biggest threat to win the position, Nick Langworthy, the New York Republican Party Chair, despite the fact that Carl Paladino collected petitions in less than one week.

The fake news media has gone into overdrive in an attempt to keep Paladino from winning the seat. They are pushing a hit piece created by far-left Soros operatives falsely make the case that Paladino supports Adolf Hitler by manipulating audio out of context. They are also using Paladino’s joking comments about former President Barack Obama and his handsome wife Michelle in an attempt to paint him as extremist or unelectable. In his district, it is not likely that these smears against Paladino will stick considering his decades of credibility among his constituents.

In addition to his history as a strong conservative, Paladino has the private sector record to back that up. He is a legendary businessman in Buffalo, undoubtedly among the most successful businessmen in the city’s history. Paladino has invested consistently in Western New York, never forgetting his roots demonstrating a staunch commitment to adding value to the place where he was born. Beginning with the acquisition of Ellicott Square, which has grown to over 5 million square feet of office, retail, hotel, and residential space. Paladino founded a multi-million dollar business that employs hundreds of people right here in Western New York. He presently has the honor of being the largest private landlord in downtown Buffalo after a lifetime of stellar business decisions.

Paladino has much in common with Trump, and the two men are friends going back many years. Paladino was one of Trump’s most vocal early supporters in 2016, serving as New York’s co-chair for the Trump campaign. He shares the pedigree and the conservative bona fides needed to serve in the America First GOP that is being remade in Trump’s image and would be the antidote to the problem of pretenders to the MAGA throne. A major problem with the Trump movement has been Johnny-Come-Lately’s adopting the MAGA posture on the campaign trail and then jettisoning it as soon as they are elected. 

However, Paladino is the opposite of these newcomers who see MAGA as a meal ticket or a way to scam their way into political prominence. Paladino has been holding down the staunchly conservative position for years, taking flak from the liberal media and RINOs in his own state and country. He could have changed his stripes for plaudits or to avoid scrutiny, but he never wavered. Paladino has been battle-tested and shown the meddle that few possess to stand strong against social pressures that ultimately compel the vast majority of elected Republicans to cave. Throughout all of the flak, Paladino has only doubled down on his positions. And with the rise of Trump, he has been vindicated.

It has been a long and lonely road for the old guard conservatives, who watched the Republican mainstream become dominated by neoconservatives after they successfully infiltrated and set up shop in the GOP co-opting the Reagan Revolution. They snuffed out any hope for limited government, strong borders, a humble foreign policy, and an America First regime in Washington D.C. while isolating and denigrating enemies of their agenda to the margins. Paladino has remained the happy warrior battling against these forces, always tirelessly championing the cause even while being outspent and outgunned. It is about the cause to Paladino, not about vainglorious pursuits. This is what the GOP was missing for decades before Trump showed up. Now that the masses have seen what true America First leadership looks like in the White House, they will accept nothing less.

New York’s new 23rd Congressional District leans Republican by over 20 points, according to recent polling estimates. If there ever were a chance to get a true America First warrior like Paladino into Congress, this would be it. This would also set a great example about Republican politics in general due to the circumstances facilitating Paladino’s rise. Spineless incumbent Congressman Chris Jacobs turned his back on the 2nd Amendment after mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tex. Shortly after coming out in favor of an assault weapons ban, Jacobs announced his abrupt retirement following his realization that he would be run out of Congress on a rail by his constituents if he put his name on the ballot. Jacobs’ replacement with Paladino, who doubled down on his support for gun rights after those recent mass shootings, would send the best possible message about the trajectory of GOP politics in the Trump era.

One sign of the change within the GOP caused by the rise of Trump is the immediate, full-throated endorsement of Paladino by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. Stefanik is a rising star in New York politics, taking over as chairwoman of the House Republican conference in Washington D.C. following the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who supported President Trump’s impeachment and helps lead the reviled Jan. 6 commission’s ongoing show trials. Stefanik has transformed from a more center-right voting record to a personal favorite of President Trump and vocal champion of the MAGA agenda in no time. She is certainly walking the walk by helping Paladino get elected.

“I am proud to announce my endorsement of my friend Carl Paladino in NY-23,” Stefanik wrote in a Facebook post on June 3. “Carl is a job creator and conservative outsider who will be a tireless fighter for the people of New York in our fight to put America First to save the country.”

Gone are the days when moderate Republicanism was acceptable. When elected Republicans could have been notching major victories for conservatism over the past several decades, they were instead hatching compromises with Democrats that were palatable for the donor class and the media overlords. What we have as a result is a country tattered, unrecognizable, and on the verge of social and cultural ruin. Outsiders like Paladino were warning us for years about what would happen if we did not use government power to uphold conservative values. For far too long we did not listen, but it may not be too late. Putting Paladino in Congress, amidst a red wave that would shift the GOP caucus substantially to the Right, may cause the realignment needed to generate the momentum for bigger victories in 2024 that will shut the door on leftist and RINO supremacy for good.

Gavin Wax

Gavin M. Wax is a New York-based conservative political activist, commentator, columnist, operative, and strategist. He is the Executive Director of the National Constitutional Law Union. He also serves as the 76th President of the New York Young Republican Club and as an Ambassador for both Turning Point USA & Live Action. He is co-authoring an upcoming book entitled 'The Emerging Populist Majority.' You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax.