NY-26 Brings Paladino Adversaries Together

photo credit: azi paybarah / wnyc

“Quick question,” Michael Caputo wrote to Alan Bedenko on Twitter yesterday, “who ever thought we’d be thumping the same tweeps? Not me, man.”

Last year, Caputo managed Carl Paladino’s Tea Party campaign for governor, and Bedenko was the liberal WNY Media blogger who released Paladino’s infamous emails, replete with racist images and even some bestiality.

“Our campaign was damaged by them,” Caputo told me this afternoon. “Within 24 hours of Carl’s announcement, I was on defense. They put me through the ringer.”

But, in recent weeks, the two antagonists have become unlikely allies in the special election to replace Chris Lee in New York’s 26th Congressional District. Neither Caputo nor Bedenko works for any of the three campaigns, but they’re united in their desire to defeat the Republican candidate, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin.

Caputo feels local Republicans disrespected Iraq war veteran David Bellavia, who he says was promised the nomination after Lee, and who Corwin’s campaign knocked off the ballot by challenging his signatures. (Bellavia has endorsed the Tea Party candidate, Jack Davis, who previously ran for the seat as a Democrat.)

And Bedenko, for his part, said he would do anything to help elect the Democratic candidate, Kathy Hochul–even if it means occasionally defending Davis, who he “despises.”

“As it turns out, I end up on the same side of the Twitter universe as Bedenko, and I thought it was really kind of a poignant moment,” Caputo  said with a laugh. “Because I really never would have thought it.”

But perhaps the two aren’t so different.

Before Caputo was dispatching an aide in a chicken costume to taunt Rick Lazio, the guys from WNY Media were sending someone in a horse costume to highlight a horse’s appearance (with a woman) in Paladino’s emails. Even after they stopped sending the horse, the emails continued to haunt Paladino throughout the campaign.

“Even though we brutalized his candidate last year, I think there’s sort of a mutual understanding that politics is kind of a bloodsport, it’s a game sometimes, at least as far as the day-to-day procedural crap is concerned,” Bedenko said. “And I think he grudgingly respected what we did. And we grudgingly respect what he did.”

Caputo and Bedenko never met during the campaign, but ran into each other shortly after the election at a coffee shop in downtown Buffalo and talked for awhile.

“Look, Caputo and I are both Deadheads so there’s a little bit of common ground as far as that’s concerned,” Bedenko said. “Even though we disagree 180 degrees on political matters.”

“They’re decent guys,” Caputo said. “I think that they screwed my candidate royally…But the way they executed it, if you step back and look at it from a professional perspective, you have to give them their props.”

For the next two weeks, at least–until the special election on May 24–the two will both be trying to take down Corwin.

“It’s strange bedfellows time,” Bedenko said. NY-26 Brings Paladino Adversaries Together