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Lazio wins party endorsement for governor at State Republican Convention

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Rick Lazio

By Mark Scott

New York City, NY – Republicans meeting at their state convention in New York City Wednesday picked former U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio as their candidate for governor in this year's election.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy failed in his bid to force a primary. Levy, a Democrat turned Republican, needed more than 50 percent of the votes in a second ballot to win a spot in a September 14th primary. He mustered just less than 43 percent. Levy was backed by state GOP Chairman Ed Cox.

Buffalo developer Carl Paladino received just eight percent of the vote, most from his base in Erie County. Paladino has vowed to circulate petitions to gain a spot on the primary ballot.

Prior to the vote, Paladino nominated himself in a speech before delegates.

"I'm an outsider. I'm not politically correct and I don't wanna be," Paladino said. "By now you're seeing the difference between me and my fellow candidates. One wants to clean up Albany with a whiskbroom. The other, he might use a mop. Me? I'll clean out Albany wit a baseball bat."

Myers Mermel, a real estate consultant, received 4.36 percent of the vote.

Lazio then accepted his party's nomination.

"It is time we are unified," he said. "We are going to Albany and when we get there, we are going to tear down the wall of incompetence and corruption."

Lazio then targeted Democratic nominee Andrew Cuomo.

"Andrew Cuomo has been too political for too long," Lazio said. "Isn't it time we reject the status Cuomo?"

Lazio represented part of Long Island in Congress from 1993 to 2001 and lost to Hillary Rodham Clinton in the U.S. Senate election in 2000.