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Welcome to the Tea Party

Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 5:28 p.m.

In what must have been the biggest upset of the night, Rick Lazio, the supposed "golden boy" of the New York State Republican and Conservative parties, lost the Republican line to a tea-partier, multi-millionaire candidate Carl Paladino. The loss by Lazio may be the greatest upset for the Republicans, but also may just be a mixed blessing for the Democrats and Andrew Cuomo.

While Lazio ran a lackluster campaign and made no attempt to reach out to Black voters or Black media, Paladino seems to be a nut job who has promoted racist humor and promulgated policies that would dehumanize the poor.

But these are strange political times and, unfortunately, racist and reactionary forces are on the rise. So, Andrew Cuomo is going to have get off his duff and run a real campaign against bigotry and reactionaries.

Republican Party head Ed Cox has said he and the Republican Party will support Paladino and his "angry white man/we aren't going to take it anymore" campaign. And despite having been proven a loser, conservatives will have to keep pushing Lazio to remain somewhat relevant. So the right and right-wing "wingnuts" are well represented.

So, neither progressive voters nor Cuomo can take a win for granted. The Tea Party and their multi-millionaire candidate have the resources to get out their message of exclusion and hate.

And while New York City and its surrounding communities may not be Tea Party heaven, we can't take it for granted that the entire state is on the same page as us. Our message must be clear: Taking care of our communities must be of paramount political concern. The candidates we support must speak out with clarity and purpose, and we all must batten down the hatches--it may be a bumpy ride.