Businessman and former GOP New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is set to jump into the race to represent New York’s 23rd District with the backing of House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).
Paladino confirmed to The Hill Friday evening that he is running for the seat, saying that he heard that there were a few people thinking of running that he did not respect, but he did not name names.
“Representing the people of Western New York would be a great honor, and I think I could be most effective at doing that,” Paladino said.
The dust had barely settled after Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.) abruptly ended his reelection bid on Friday over backlash to his support for an assault weapons ban when Stefanik came out with the endorsement.
According to The Buffalo News, Paladino said earlier Friday that if Jacobs dropped out that he would throw his hat in the ring for the seat.
“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,” Stefanik said in a tweet posted on Friday evening.
Paladino said that Stefanik asked if he would mind if she endorsed him as soon as she heard he was running.
“She's a great girl,” Paladino said. “She’s got she got her head right where it belongs when it comes to leading for her people,”
Paladino, a real estate developer and ally of former President Trump, made national headlines in December 2016 when he sent racist remarks about former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama to local Buffalo, N.Y., outlet Artvoice.
He claimed at the time that he sent the comments in error.
He said that he would like to see Michelle Obama “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.” Paladino added that he hoped President Obama would die of mad cow disease. Paladino apologized to “the minority community” for his comments.
At the time, Paladino sat on the Buffalo city school board. In August 2017, he was removed from that position after he was accused of improperly disclosing information about teacher contract negotiations.
Before that, Paladino was the Republican nominee for New York Governor in 2010.
During that campaign, he alleged without evidence that Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who would win that gubernatorial race, was unfaithful to his ex-wife when they were still married.
Stefanik and Paladino did not always appear to be so close. In a March 2016 email to supporters, he called Stefanik a “fraud” for not supporting Trump.
Stefanik has since come to publicly and forcefully support Trump, including by being part of his impeachment defense team during the first impeachment proceedings against him in 2019.
Updated 7:54 p.m.