By Olivia Scheck
DNAinfo Reporter Producer
MANHATTAN — The State GOP Committee voted to nominate former Long Island congressman Rick Lazio for its gubernatorial candidate Wednesday, winning the support of nearly 60 percent of the delegates, the New York Times reported.
Lazio's closest competitor, Democrat-turned-Republican Steve Levy, failed to earn the votes required to challenge Lazio to a primary race, the paper noted.
Lazio may still face a primary challenge from Buffalo developer Carl Paladino. Although Paladino placed third at the convention, he said he would collect petition signatures in order to get on the ballot, according to the Times.
Lazio, who lost a senatorial bid against Hillary Clinton, took the stage to the Jay Z-Alicia Keys duet "Empire State of Mind." In his speech he promised to "tear down the culture of incompetence and corruption" in Albany, at one point rattling off a list Democratic politicians to incite boos from the crowd.
Speaking at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown, Lazio advocated lifting the cap on charter schools and treating terrorists "like terrorists…not like common criminals."
Lazio used most of his speech to rail against Democrats, including likely Democratic opponent, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. In his statements, Lazio asserted that Cuomo was a power-hungry member of the political establishment.
At one point, Lazio accused his would-be opponent of remaining silent on important issues because "he didn't want to alienate his political friends."
"Andrew Cuomo can't take on the Albany establishment because Andrew Cuomo is the Albany establishment," Lazio claimed. "Isn't it time that we reject the status Cuomo?"
Lazio painted himself, on the other hand, as a political outsider and a Reagan Republican.
Lazio's triumph over Levy is a problem for Republican State Chairman Ed Cox. The already embattled party chair had convinced Levy to switch parties and had thrown his support behind the candidate, rather than Lazio, who is a lifelong Republican.
GOP insiders are reportedly worried about Cox's ability to steer the party to victory this fall in what should be a good year for Republicans.