Editor's Note: The following op-ed does not reflect an endorsement of any kind, of any political candidate, by Newsmax.
Who doesn't love a good political comeback?
In New York state, the liberal elites lording over the GOP are certainly less than thrilled.
Former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is running for the U.S. House.
He has a very good shot to capture the seat.
Paladino is putting hundreds of thousands of his personal fortune into the campaign:
"I’ve already put $300,000 into the [campaign] account," Paladino said to the New York Post. "I am very confident."
But during the tea party era, Paladino was treated like a punch line.
He lost to Andrew Cuomo in 2010.
But Paladino boasted major pockets of support despite being unpopular in liberal population centers. In that 2010 race, Carl won overwhelmingly in Western New York and the Southern Tier, encompassing New York's Congressional District.
Palladino's name recognition and popularity among Republican and conservative voters in upstate New York is impressive; it means Paladino's time may well have arrived.
Is the electorate are ready to send him to Congress? His campaign seems to have grassroots support. He recently filed over 3,100 petitions with the State Board of Elections for the Republican Party.
This is nearly 1,000 more than those filed by Paladino's biggest threat to his potential win, Nick Langworthy, New York Republican Party chair.
This, despite the fact that Paladino collected petitions in a less than one-week period.
Some in the media have launched into overdrive, in an attempt to keep Palladino from winning. Some have purportedly pushed the narrative that Paladino supports Adolf Hitler.
They are also using Paladino's joking comments about former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle, in an attempt to paint him as extremist or unelectable.
In his district, it's not likely that such smears against Paladino will stick, considering his decades of credibility among his constituents.
Additionally, his history as a strong conservative, and a private sector record helps him.
As a Buffalo businessman, a successful one, Paladino has invested consistently in Western New York, never forgetting his roots — demonstrating his staunch commitment to adding value to the place where he was born.
Beginning with the acquisition of Ellicott Square, which has grown to over five million square feet of office, retail, hotel, and residential space. Paladino founded a multi-million dollar business that employs hundreds of people in the Western New York region.
He is the largest private landlord in downtown Buffalo.
Paladino has much in common with Donald Trump, and the two men are friends - going back many years.
Paladino was one of Trump's most vocal early supporters in 2016, serving as New York's co-chair for the Trump campaign.
He shares the pedigree and the conservative bona fides needed to serve in the America First GOP being remade in Trump's image, and would be the antidote to the problem of pretenders to the MAGA throne.
A major problem with the Trump movement has been Johnny-Come-Lately's adopting the MAGA posture on the campaign trail, then jettisoning it as soon as they're elected.
Paladino is the opposite of these newcomers who see MAGA as a meal ticket, or as a way to ease their way into political prominence.
Paladino has been holding down staunchly conservative positions for years, taking flak from the liberal media and RINOs.
He could have changed his stripes for plaudits, or to avoid scrutiny, but he's never wavered.
Paladino doesn't cave.
Throughout all the flak, Paladino has only doubled down on his positions.
And with the advent and presidency of Trump, he's been vindicated.
It's been a long and lonely road for old guard conservatives, who watched the GOP mainstream become dominated by neo-cons (following their successful infiltration of the GOP, co-opting the Reagan Revolution.)
They snuffed out any hope for limited government, strong borders, a humble foreign policy, and an America First regime in Washington D.C., while isolating and denigrating enemies of their agenda, relegating them to the margins.
Carl Paladino has remained the happy warrior battling against such forces, because it's about the cause, not about vainglorious pursuits.
This is what the GOP was missing for decades before Trump arrived. Now that the masses have seen what true America First leadership looks like in the White House, they'll accept nothing less.
New York's new 23rd Congressional District leans Republican by over 20 points, according to recent polling estimates.
If there ever were a chance to get a true America First warrior like Carl Paladino into Congress, this would be the time. This would also set an example about Republican politics in general.
Incumbent Congressman Chris Jacobs turned his back on the 2nd Amendment following the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas.
Shortly after coming out in favor of an assault weapons ban, Jacobs announced his abrupt retirement following his realization that he would be run out of Congress by his constituents — if he put his name on the ballot.
Jacobs' replacement with Paladino, who doubled down on his support for gun rights after those recent mass shootings, would send the best possible message about the trajectory of GOP politics in the Trump era.
One sign of change within the GOP caused by the rise of Trump is the immediate, full-throated endorsement of Paladino by Rep. Elise Stefanik.
Stefanik herself is a rising star in New York politics, taking over as chair of the House Republican conference in Washington D.C., following the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who supported President Trump's impeachment and helps lead the reviled Jan. 6 Committee.
Stefanik has transformed from a more center-right voting record to a personal favorite of President Trump and vocal champion of MAGA.
She is certainly walking the walk by helping Paladino get elected.
"I am proud to announce my endorsement of my friend Carl Paladino in NY-23," Stefanik wrote in a Facebook post on June 3. "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."
Gone are the days when moderate Republicanism was acceptable.
When elected Republicans could have been notching major victories for conservatism over the past several decades, they were instead hatching compromises with Democrats, palatable for the donor class and media overlords.
As a result, our nation is tattered, unrecognizable, and verges on social and cultural ruin.
Outsiders like Paladino warned for years about what would happen if we did not employ the power of government to uphold conservatism.
For far too long we didn't listen, but it may not be too late.
Putting Carl Paladino in Congress, during a red wave would shift the GOP caucus significantly rightward, causing a realignment, one to generate momentum for bigger victories in 2024, thus shutting the door on leftist and RINO supremacy.
Gavin Wax is the 76th President of the New York Young Republican Club, Chairman of the New York Republican Liberty Caucus, an Ambassador for Turning Point USA, and an Associate Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. You can follow him on Twitter at @GavinWax. Read Gavin Wax's Reports — More Here.
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