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Leader of New York GOP enters hot upstate race for Congress

June 10, 2022 GMT

New York’s Republican Party chair, Nick Langworthy, announced a run for Congress on Friday, a day after another serious contender for a seat representing western New York drew criticism over admiring remarks he’d made about Adolf Hitler.

He will compete in the 23rd Congressional District against against business owner Marc Cenedella and Buffalo developer Carl Paladino, a former candidate for governor who has a history of inflammatory comments.

“I can provide an alternative in this race: someone who can go and advocate for strong conservative Republican values without distraction and without any baggage,” Langworthy said in an interview.

Langworthy’s announcement comes at the end of a week during which Paladino has faced scrutiny over several remarks and a social media post promoting mass shooting conspiracies.

On Friday, Paladino said he was wrong to invoke Hitler in an interview last year by saying he was “the kind of leader we need today” because of his ability to rally crowds. Paladino said he condemned the Nazis and felt any effort to brand his remarks as antisemitic was unfair.

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Paladino earlier this week posted, then deleted a conspiracy-laden Facebook post suggesting a racist mass shooting in his hometown of Buffalo and other mass killings were part of a plot to take away people’s guns.

Paladino was ousted from the Buffalo School Board in 2016 amid an uproar over comments he made about President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, who he likened to a man and said should live in a cave with a gorilla.

And during his campaign to win the Republican nomination for governor in 2010, Paladino was widely criticized over a pattern of forwarding racist jokes about Black people to a circle of friends.

Paladino apologized and won the party’s nomination.

On Friday, Langworthy said Paladino does not speak for the state Republican Party.

“It’s reprehensible to talk about Adolf Hitler in any positive fashion,” Langworthy said.

Langworthy said he was already preparing for a run for Congress before Paladino faced criticism this week: “This isn’t an 11th hour thing.”

The Aug. 23 primary will mark the first appearance on a ballot for Langworthy, 41, a former Erie County GOP chair who was on the executive committee of former President Donald Trump’s transition team. He has the Conservative Party’s endorsement.

Langworthy’s announcement video emphasized his ties to Trump.

“When the Republican Party needed new leadership, President Trump called on me to turn things around,” he said.

The newly reconfigured congressional district in western New York runs from the suburbs of Buffalo to rural communities along the Pennsylvania border.

Parts of the territory were formerly represented by U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, who recently resigned from office, and U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs, who said he would not seek reelection after facing backlash from his own party for voicing support for an assault weapons ban following the May 14 mass shooting in his hometown of Buffalo.

Both are Republicans.