Tea party favorite Carl Paladino, the unsuccessful 2010 Republican nominee for New York governor, won a landslide victory Tuesday night for a seat on the Buffalo Board of Education.
Paladino easily defeated Adrian Fitzgerald Harris 79 percent to 20 percent to capture a seat representing the south Buffalo neighborhood. The move comes 2 1/2 years after Paladino lost the race for the governor's mansion to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) by 29 percentage points after upsetting New York's Republican establishment in the GOP primary.
Paladino, a millionaire developer, entered the school board race in January vowing to "destroy" the nine-member board. He has long been at odds with board members, filing a lawsuit against the board last year to challenge the appointment of a new schools superintendent. He said he wants to fire the school system's entire top leadership and has challenged the Buffalo teachers union.
Paladino has described African American women school board members as a "parasitic black sisterhood." In 2010, the Buffalo Common Council considered a resolution condemning Paladino for racial insensitivity.
In 2011, Paladino proposed that Buffalo's school system create boarding schools in order to improve test scores. He said boarding schools would provide children with study skills, meals and a chance to escape dysfunctional families. He repeated the boarding school proposal during his school board campaign.
Paladino has courted controversy. In October, he had bumper stickers tied to the birther movement placed on cars at a Thrifty rental car branch he owns at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The stickers said, "Vote for the American." During his failed gubernatorial campaign, a series of racist and sexually charged emails he forwarded to friends surfaced. At the time, he told the New York Post that he was not a racist, but said he would not run a politically correct campaign for New York state's top job.
Despite his business success, Paladino has struggled in elective politics. In 2008, he used his own money in an unsuccessful effort to oust a Republican state senator he did not like.
Paladino won the 2010 Republican primary over former Rep. Rick Lazio, who was backed by the state GOP, based largely on landslide numbers in western New York, where he captured 93 percent of the vote in Buffalo's Erie County.