Conservative Party of New York State
|Conservative Party of New York State|
|Chairperson||Michael R. Long|
|Split from||Republican Party|
|Headquarters||486 78th Street Brooklyn NY 11209|
|New York State Assembly|
|New York State Senate|
|New York City Council|
|Politics of New York
The Conservative Party of New York State is a political party in the United States active in the state of New York, holding "Line C" on ballots directly below the Democratic and Republican parties. Although the Conservative Party once existed in many other states throughout the 1960s, it currently operates only in New York State.
In New York State's elections, the Conservative Party is ranked fourth place in terms of membership, behind only the Democrats, Republicans, and the Libertarian Party, but ahead of the Greens and Constitution Party. As of November 1, 2011, a total of 147,993 voters, or 1.3% of New York State's total enrollment, are registered with the party.
The Conservative Party of New York State was founded in 1962 by a group including J. Daniel Mahoney, Kieran O'Doherty, Charles E. Rice, and Charles Edison, out of frustration with the perceived liberalism of the state's Republican Party. A key consideration was New York's fusion voting, unusual among US states, which allows individual candidates to receive votes from more than one party. The Liberal Party of New York, founded in 1944, had earlier benefitted from this system.
The Conservative Party founders wanted to balance the Liberal Party's influence. One early supporter was National Review founder William F. Buckley, who was the party's candidate for mayor of New York City in 1965. In 1970, his brother James Buckley was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Conservative Party candidate; in 1976, he ran for reelection as a candidate of the Republican and Conservative Parties, losing to Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In the 2004 U.S. Senate election, the Conservative Party endorsed Marilyn O'Grady to oppose Republican candidate Howard Mills and incumbent Democratic Senator Charles Schumer.
|Chair||Tenure||Hometown while serving|
|Kieran E. O'Doherty||February 1962 – July 1962||Manhattan|
|J. Daniel Mahoney||July 1962 – April 1986||Manhattan|
|Serphin R. Maltese||April 1986 – December 1988||Queens|
|Michael R. Long||December 1988 – present||Brooklyn|
The Conservative Party platform addresses a range of fiscal and social issues. In the fiscal realm, the Party supports reduced individual and corporate taxes, right to work laws, tort reform, repeal of inheritance (estate) taxes, and limits on the growth of state spending, and opposes minimum wage increases. Regarding law enforcement, the Party advocates repeal of the SAFE Act, reinstatement of the death penalty, no parole for convicted felons, and the use of "stop-and-frisk" policing, and opposes the legalization of mind-altering drugs. On social issues, the Party opposes abortion except when the life of the mother is in danger, supports educational choice, advocates a traditional definition of civil marriage, opposes the DREAM Act, and promotes adoption. The Party advocates government reform efforts such as term limits, initiative and referendum, recall, a ban on legislative member items, and voter identification requirements, and opposes taxpayer funding of campaigns.
Rather than nominating its own candidates, the Conservative Party usually endorses the same candidates as the Republican Party and campaigns against the Democratic candidates. It withholds this support from the Republicans if it deems them too liberal. For example, the Conservative Party withheld its support from Republican Rudy Giuliani's fusion campaigns with endorsement from the Liberal Party for New York City mayor in 1989, 1993 and 1997. The decision not to endorse party-switching Syracuse state Senator Nancy Larraine Hoffmann cost the GOP that seat in the 2004 election. However, the Party has also endorsed Democratic candidates as well, such as controversial former Buffalo mayor and presidential candidate Jimmy Griffin, who was initially elected mayor solely on the Conservative ticket but had Republican support as well for his subsequent campaigns. It also cross-endorsed such Democrats as Asms. Michael Cusick, Michael P. Kearns, and Robin Schimminger, former Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan, and former Capital District Congressman Michael McNulty. No Republican has won statewide office in New York without Conservative Party support since 1974.
1990 gubernatorial election
Herb London was the Conservative Party's nominee for Governor of New York in 1990; that year, the Party broke from the Republican Party, declining to cross-endorse Republican nominee Pierre Rinfret. London ran a strong campaign statewide and finished one percentage point behind Rinfret, while Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo easily won re-election.
The party lobbied against Jeanine Pirro's candidacy for the 2006 Senate election against Hillary Clinton. Pirro was a liberal Republican and was supported by Governor George Pataki and other GOP leaders who saw her as the only candidate who could compete against Clinton. Under pressure from the Conservative Party and factions within the GOP, Pirro withdrew from the race in November 2005 to run for state attorney general (this time, with the endorsement of the Conservative Party). She was defeated in that race by Andrew Cuomo. Most Conservative Party state and county leaders supported John Spencer, former mayor of Yonkers, New York. While Spencer received the Republican nomination, he was defeated by Clinton in the general election.
In the race for Governor, Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long endorsed John Faso, the former Assembly Minority Leader and Republican State Comptroller nominee in 2002. Faso also received the endorsements of county branches of the Conservative Party. Bill Weld, John Faso's primary contender, received lukewarm support from the Conservative Party due to his support of abortion and same-sex marriage; Weld considered running on the Libertarian Party ticket. Faso was the nominee of both the Republican and Conservative parties, but was defeated by Eliot Spitzer.
2008 presidential election
The Conservative Party nominated Doug Hoffman for the special congressional election in the 23rd congressional district, an election won by the Democratic nominee, Bill Owens. The Conservative Party chose Hoffman, a fiscal and social conservative, in reaction to the Republican Party's nomination of pro-choice, pro-same-sex-marriage, pro-union Assemblymember Dede Scozzafava, who Chairman Mike Long declared to be a "nice lady who is too liberal." On October 31, 2009, Dede Scozzafava suspended her campaign, leading prominent Republicans such as national chairman Michael Steele to endorse Hoffman. The final election results showed that Owens prevailed over Hoffman by a margin of 48.3% to 46%. According to one commentator, "tea party conservatives see the GOP loss as a victory for conservativism over mere political party loyalty. They’re describing the defeat as a warning shot fired in defense of principle." In addition, elected officials and observers opined that the congressional race had an impact on the New York State Senate's December 2, 2009 vote against same-sex marriage legislation.
Stephen Christopher, the party's nominee for Mayor of New York City, came in third in that race with 1.7% of the vote. The party's nominees for Public Advocate and Comptroller also came in third with 3.5% and 2.3% of the vote respectively.
Party chairman Michael Long publicly endorsed Rick Lazio for the New York gubernatorial election, 2010, and directed his allies to do the same. However, several county chairmen refused, and coalesced behind vice chairman Ralph Lorigo to assure Lazio would have a Conservative Party primary opponent. Long sent a letter demanding Lorigo to either cease his gubernatorial campaign or resign his position within the party, accusing him of being a stalking horse for another candidate, Carl Paladino, whom Long refused to consider (an allegation that Lorigo publicly denied, though his campaign was run by family members of the Paladino campaign). Long did not state any consequences for refusing to do so.
Lazio defeated Lorigo in the primary election by a roughly 60-40 margin, though write-in candidates were significant in several upstate counties, many of which voted for Lorigo over Lazio. Paladino defeated Lazio in the Republican primary. Afterwards, Long barred Lorigo from party meetings. Lazio dropped out of the race on September 27, requiring a vacancy committee to convene and select a replacement; Lorigo claims that Suffolk County chairman Ed Walsh held a meeting among his party's members that claimed a 90 percent support rate, at odds with Long's claims. Long eventually endorsed Paladino, and the vacancy committee followed, placing Paladino on the line.
Paladino eventually drew 232,264 votes on the Conservative Party line, which allowed the Party to overtake the Independence Party of New York and retake Line C for the first time since the 1998 elections.
Following the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in 2011, the Conservative Party stated that it would withdraw support for any candidate who had voted for the bill. Four Republican state senators−Sens. James Alesi, Mark Grisanti, Roy McDonald, and Stephen Saland−voted in favor of same-sex marriage. Alesi did not run for re-election, while Grisanti, McDonald, and Saland faced challengers who received the Conservative Party's endorsement. Grisanti was re-elected to the State Senate in 2012, while McDonald was defeated in a Republican primary and Saland was defeated in a general election in which a Conservative Party-endorsed challenger acted as a spoiler.
The party endorsed Rob Astorino very early in the gubernatorial election process. In the comptroller election, the party threatened to nominate its own candidate if the Republicans could not find a candidate from their party to run on the line.
Grisanti, the last remaining Republican to have voted for the Marriage Equality Act, was again denied a cross-endorsement and the party instead endorsed dummy candidate Timothy Gallagher for the position. Grisanti lost in the Republican primary but remained in the general election on the Independence line; Gallagher, despite not campaigning at all, won 8 percent of the vote. The vote split between Gallagher, Grisanti and Republican primary winner Kevin Stocker allowed Democrat Marc Panepinto to win election to the seat with only 34 percent of the vote.
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