In the immediate aftermath of Carl Paladino’s surprise landslide win in the Sept. 14 GOP primary, Senate Republicans rushed to embrace him – Minority Leader Dean Skelos was the first out with a congratulatory statement – and insisted his presence at the top of the ticket would help them win back the majority.

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Thanks to numerous Paladino missteps – from the Sagamore Smackdown with Fred Dicker to the anti-gay statements he made yesterday in Brooklyn – a number of Republicans are now striving to put distance between themselves and the Buffalo businessman, including one who is arguably the least likely to do so (at least in my mind).

Assemblyman Greg Ball, who knows from conservative controversy, released the following statement this afternoon in response to Paladino’s comments yesterday:

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“These divisive statements are offensive to most New Yorkers.”

“Now is a time to be talking about coming together to reform New York, and candidates should focus on that common goal, to make the Vampire State the Empire State once again.”

“Carl Paladino’s statements do not achieve that, and I do not agree with them.”

Ball is the GOP candidate in the 40th SD. He defeated the SRCC’s preferred candidate, Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy, in the Sept. 14 primary, and is running against Democratic Westchester County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz for the seat being vacated by Sen. Vincent Leibell.

Also releasing a Paladino-related statement today is Lee Zeldin, who is challenge Democratic Sen. Brian Foley in the 3rd SD.

Foley’s campaign slammed Zeldin over the weekend for the presence of pro-Paladino and pro-Zeldin supporters at a “Women for Foley” event who waved the Confederate flag and reportedly made obscene gestures at women arriving to attend the rally.

“The Zeldin for Senate Campaign does not support the use of the Confederate Flag or the South Carolina Sovereignty Flag,” Zeldin’s statement said.

“Nor do we condone the actions and antics of the individual in the photo. There are over 300,000 residents in the 3rd Senatorial District. Our campaign will not be held responsible for the actions of every individual just as we would not attempt to do that to Senator Brian X. Foley simply for political gain.

Of course, our campaign condemns racism, racial violence and bigotry of anyone. Anyone who knows Lee knows he has always condemned and will continue to condemn any form of racism.”

UPDATE: Kaplowitz’s campaign sent the following statement:

“Assemblyman can try and run from his record all he wants, but the fact remains: Assemblyman Ball is the Carl Paladino of the Hudson Valley. He repeatedly endorsed and supported Paladino’s divisive and insensitive politics. He stood by Paladino until he saw recent poll numbers that put his own political career on the line.”

“Assemblyman Ball, a desperate Albany incumbent, now has a decision to make: he can stand up and withdraw his endorsement of Carl Paladino – as Mike Kaplowitz first asked him to do in a letter one month ago. Or, he can continue to stand by Paladino’s racist and bigoted politics.”

“We will be asking Assemblyman Ball to withdraw his endorsement of Paladino every day between now and November 2nd. In the event he chooses not to, he is more than welcome to explain to the voters why.”