Newly-minted GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino will be in the city tomorrow to meet with two veteran Queens Republicans with longstanding ties to the Conservative Party.

Paladino's spokesman Michael Caputo confirmed the Buffalo businessman, who formally announced his candidacy today, is scheduled to sit down with former Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene and former Sen. Serphin Maltese.

There has been some speculation this evening that Paladino might try to recruit Ognibene, who ran on the Conservative line against Mayor Bloomberg in 2005 after getting booted off the GOP primary ballot, to be his LG running mate.

But Caputo insisted that is not the purpose of tomorrow's get-together.
"We're not thinking of lieutenant governor at all at this point," Caputo said, although he did allow that Paladino is "leaning toward" a female running mate and also believes his LG should be someone from downstate.

Caputo didn't officially rule out the idea of Ognibene as an LG contender, but he didn't rule it in, either.

Ognibene, who has failed in several recent attempts to win back his Council seat, was mentioned as someone with whom Paladino should speak if he is serious about trying to land the Conservative Party line - which he is, Caputo said.

(The state Conservative Party's executive committee as you'll recall, has endorsed Rick Lazio, upsetting Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and his biggest political champion, state GOP Chairman Ed Cox).

Maltese helped found the state Conservative Party, but switched his enrollment to the GOP in 1990 and chaired the Queens Republican Party until he was forced to give up that post following his near-loss to Democrat Al Baldeo in the 2006 election.

Maltese was ousted two years later by former Democratic Councilman (and now Sen.) Joe Addabbo.

Caputo said Paladino is scheduledഀ to meet with Staten Island Republicans Wednesday morning. (He didn't name any names, saying only "the usual suspects" would be on hand). He also said Paladino would be in the city every 10 days or so from now on as he ramps up his campaign.

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