Conservative Party of New York State
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Conservative Party of New York State

The Conservative Party of New York State is a political party in the United States. The party was founded in 1962. Since 2010, the party has held "Row C" on New York ballots--the third-place ballot position, directly below the Democratic and Republican parties--because it received the third-highest number of votes of any political party in the 2010[1] and 2014[2] gubernatorial elections.

As of April 1, 2018, 145,421 active voters were registered with the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party is the fourth-largest political party in New York, ranking behind the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Independence Party and ahead of the Working Families Party and the Green Party.

Michael R. Long has served as Chairman of the party since December 1988.


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 appear on multiple party lines in the same election. The Liberal Party of New York, founded in 1944, had benefited from this system; the Conservative Party desired to balance the Liberal Party's influence. According to The New York Times, the party's support "came mainly from those who would later be called Reagan Democrats--working-class, urban and suburban, often Catholic.[3]

James L. Buckley won a U.S. Senate seat in 1970 on the Conservative Party line with 39% of the vote. To date, Buckley is the only candidate to have won a statewide race on the Conservative Party line without also running on the Republican Party line.
Conservative Party Chairmen/Chairwomen
Chair Tenure Residence
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



Prominent conservative author and commentator William F. Buckley, Jr. ran for Mayor of New York City on the Conservative Party line in 1965, winning 13.4% of the vote.[4] A The New York Times op-ed describes the Buckley campaign as "a watershed campaign for the Conservatives, who gained heavy publicity and proved their strength in the overwhelmingly Democratic city."[5]


In 1970, James Buckley, the brother of William F. Buckley, Jr., ran for U.S. Senate as the candidate of the Conservative Party. Running only on the Conservative Party line and the Independent Alliance Party line, Buckley defeated Democratic Congressman Richard Ottinger and unelected incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Charles Goodell, 38%-37%-24%.[6] Buckley served one term in the Senate.

In 1976, Buckley ran for reelection to the U.S. Senate as the candidate of the Republican and Conservative parties, losing to Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan.[7]

In 1978, registered Conservative William Carney, a member of the Suffolk County legislature, was elected to the United States House of Representatives in New York's 1st congressional district, a long-time Democratic stronghold on Long Island, after winning the Republican primary and running on both party lines.[8] He eventually served three terms before retiring.


In 1980, the Conservative Party endorsed Al D'Amato in a U.S. Senate race in which he successfully challenged incumbent Sen. Jacob Javits in a Republican primary.[9] D'Amato then narrowly prevailed in the general election over Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman; the 275,100 votes D'Amato received on the Conservative line exceeded his slim margin of victory.[10][11]

In the 1982 gubernatorial election, the party nominated Republican Lewis Lehrman, who was narrowly defeated by Democrat Mario Cuomo. In the 1986 gubernatorial election, the party nominated Republican Andrew P. O'Rourke, who was defeated by Cuomo in a landslide.


Herbert 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.[12][13] London ran a strong campaign statewide and finished one percentage point behind Rinfret, while Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo easily won re-election.[14]

The party declined to endorse Republican Rudy Giuliani for Mayor of New York City in his successful 1993 and 1997 campaigns. In each of those elections, Giuliani accepted the endorsement of the Liberal Party. The Conservative Party endorsed George Marlin for Mayor in 1993 and left its line blank in 1997.[15][16][17]

The party endorsed Republican George Pataki in his successful 1994 campaign to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo. In that race, Pataki "drew more than 300,000 votes on the Conservative line, double his slender winning margin over Mr. Cuomo."[18][19]


The party ran its own candidates for Mayor of New York City in the 2001, 2005, and 2009, declining to support successful Republican candidate Michael Bloomberg (a former Democrat).

In 2006, the party did not support Jeanine Pirro's candidacy for the 2006 Senate election against Hillary Clinton. Pirro 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 2006 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.

Strength of Conservative Party by county, 2008
  1.5 - 1.9 %
  2.0 - 2.4 %
  2.5 - 3.0 %
  3.0 - 3.9 %
  >4.0 %

The Conservative Party nominated Republican candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin for president and vice president in the 2008 election, which was won by Democrat Barack Obama.[20] The graph shows how that ticket performed throughout the state.

New York's 23rd congressional district special election, 2009

The Conservative Party nominated Doug Hoffman for the 2009 special congressional election in the 23rd congressional district, an election won by the Democratic nominee, Bill Owens.[21] 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."[22] On October 31, 2009, Dede Scozzafava suspended her campaign,[23] leading prominent Republicans such as national chairman Michael Steele to endorse Hoffman.[24] The final election results showed that Owens prevailed over Hoffman by a margin of 48.3% to 46%.[25] 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."[26] In addition, elected officials and observers opined that the congressional race affected the New York State Senate's December 2, 2009 vote against same-sex marriage legislation.[27][28][29]


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.[30] 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.[31] 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.[32] 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,[33] which allowed the party to overtake the Independence Party of New York and retake Row C (the third place ballot position in New York elections) for the first time since the 1998 elections.[34]

Prior to the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in 2011, Long stated that the party would not endorse any candidate who supported same-sex marriage.[35][36] Four Republican state senators-Sens. James Alesi, Mark Grisanti, Roy McDonald, and Stephen Saland-voted in favor of same-sex marriage. Alesi did not seek re-election in 2012,[37] while Grisanti, McDonald, and Saland faced challengers in 2012 who received the Conservative Party's endorsement. Grisanti was re-elected to the State Senate,[38] while McDonald was defeated in a Republican primary[39] and Saland was defeated in a general election in which a Conservative Party-endorsed challenger acted as a spoiler.[40]

State Senator Mark Grisanti, the last remaining Republican state senator to have voted for the Marriage Equality Act, was again denied Conservative Party endorsement in 2014; the party instead endorsed dummy candidate Timothy Gallagher in State Senate District 60. Grisanti lost the Republican primary, but remained in the general election on the Independence line. In the general election, Gallagher--despite not campaigning at all--won 8 percent of the vote; the vote split between Gallagher, Grisanti, and Republican candidate Kevin Stocker allowed Democrat Marc Panepinto to win the election with only 34 percent of the vote.[41][42]

The party endorsed Rob Astorino very early in the 2014 gubernatorial election process.[43] In the election for New York State Comptroller, the party threatened to nominate its own candidate if the Republicans could not find a candidate from their party to run on the line;[44] the GOP eventually nominated Onondaga County Comptroller Rob Antonacci.[45]

In 2016, the Conservative Party nominated eventual winner Donald J. Trump for President of the United States.[46]

On April 13, 2018, the Conservative Party executive committee selected Marcus Molinaro as its candidate in the 2018 gubernatorial election in what Long termed a "not very easy" decision; the party chose Molinaro over Deputy State Senate Majority Leader John A. DeFrancisco and openly refused to consider Erie County Executive Joel Giambra.[47]

The Conservative Party of Cattaraugus County is alleged to have been the target of a hostile takeover by members of the Republican Party, after 37 former Republicans abruptly changed party registration in October 2017. County party chairman Leonard Ciros alleges the Republican Party has violated state party loyalty laws and the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and notes that the Republicans had pulled a similar maneuver with the county branch of the Independence Party in 2009; Ciros plans on meeting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the allegations in August 2018. He stated that the likely motive is that the state Conservative Party has occasionally endorsed Democrats at the local level.[48]

Policy priorities

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, opposes the legalization of assisted suicide, supports educational choice, opposes same-sex 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.[49]


Rather than nominating its own candidates, the Conservative Party usually endorses the same candidates as the Republican Party and campaigns against the Democratic candidates. However, the party has withheld support from Republican candidates 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[50] and 1997.[51] 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. Also, the decision not to endorse party-switching Syracuse state Senator Nancy Larraine Hoffmann cost the GOP that seat in the 2004 election. 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;[52][36] two Republican senators who voted for same-sex marriage--Roy McDonald and Stephen Saland--lost their seats in 2012.[53][54]

The party has also endorsed Democratic candidates, including 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,[55]Michael P. Kearns,[56] and Robin Schimminger,[56] former Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan, and former Capital District Congressman Michael McNulty.

Current elected officials

Cayuga County

  • Hans-Peter Pecher, member of the Cayuga County Legislature from the 8th district

Chemung County

  • Donald Vorhees, town councilman from Catlin
  • Louis F. DeCiccio, town councilman from Veteran

Clinton County

  • Lawrence E. Wolff, town assessor of Ellenburg

Columbia County

  • Jon Mesick, town councilman from Austerlitz
  • Alan G. Miller, town councilman from Canaan
  • Edward Scott, town councilman from Stuyvesant

Erie County

  • Joseph C. Lorigo, majority leader of the Erie County Legislature from the 10th district
  • Sheila Meegan, Town Supervisor of West Seneca (Registered Democrat, re-elected on the Conservative line)
  • David L. Cummings, Town Supervisor of Newstead
  • Michael Petrie, Mayor of Blasdell
  • Thomas Fallon, town councilman from Elma
  • Christopher Aronica, town councilman from Grand Island
  • Gary Roesch, town councilman from Grand Island
  • Geoffrey W. Hack, town councilman from Holland
  • Julie Lathrop, town councilwoman from Marilla
  • John P. Jendrowski, Jr., town councilman from Newstead
  • Douglas J. Morrell, town councilman from Sardinia
  • Robert Pearce, Town Justice from Elma
  • Walter C. Cain, Town Justice from Collins
  • Thomas M. Best, Sr., Superintendent of Highways from Hamburg
  • Remy Orffeo, Town Clerk from Orchard Park

Genesee County

  • John Armitage, town councilman from LeRoy

Livingston County

Monroe County

  • Eric G. Peters, Town Supervisor of Hamlin

Niagara County

  • William L. Ross, member of the Niagara County Legislature from the 2nd district
  • Joseph Ohol, town councilman from Cambria
  • Ronald C. Morrison, councilman from Pendleton
  • Tracey Carmer, Town Clerk from Somerset

Schenectady County

  • Dominic Dagostino, Sheriff
  • Randy Pascarella, County Legislator
  • Grant Socha, County Legislator
  • Holly Vellano, County Legislator
  • Evan Christou, Rotterdam Town Board Member
  • Joseph Guidarelli, Rotterdam Town Board Member
  • James A. Bradshaw, Jr., Rotterdam Town Justice
  • Larry A. Lamora, Rotterdam Highway Superintendent
  • Roger Tidball, Duanesburg Town Supervisor
  • Randy Passonno, Duanesburg Town Councilman

Suffolk County

  • Corrine DeSomma, Receiver of Taxes of Babylon
  • Vincent Puleo, Clerk of Smithtown
  • Jane Bonner, Councilwoman from Brookhaven
  • Mary Kate Mullen, Councilwoman from Islip

Ulster County

  • Mary Wawaro, member of the Ulster County Legislature from the 1st district

Westchester County

  • Margaret Cunzio, member of the Westchester County Board of Legislators from the 3rd district

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (1999-12-13). "Despite Size, Conservative Party Is a Force to Reckon With". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  4. ^
  5. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (1999-12-13). "Despite Size, Conservative Party Is a Force to Reckon With". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Spitzer, Robert, "Third Parties in New York State", in Jeffrey M. Stonecash, John Kenneth White, and Peter W. Colby, edd., Governing New York State (1994, Third Edition).
  9. ^ Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine. Syracuse Mayoral Primary Results -
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Lynn, Frank (May 29, 1990). "Conservatives Balk as G.O.P. Prepares to Back Rinfret". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ Lynn, Frank (October 30, 1990). "Rinfret and London Running Even in Polls". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
  14. ^ "Pierre Rinfret; Economist, Cuomo Rival in N.Y". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010.
  15. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (1999-12-13). "Despite Size, Conservative Party Is a Force to Reckon With". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Perez-Pena, Richard (1999-12-13). "Despite Size, Conservative Party Is a Force to Reckon With". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  19. ^
  20. ^ [1] Archived August 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Bacon Jr, Perry (November 4, 2009). "Democrat wins hard-fought N.Y. House special election". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010.
  22. ^ "New York Trading Down". Human Events. Retrieved .
  23. ^ "Scozzafava drops out of NY-23 special election". The Washington Post. October 31, 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  24. ^ Nagourney, Adam; Peters, Jeremy W. (November 1, 2009). "G.O.P. Moderate, Pressed by Right, Abandons Race". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
  25. ^ "Special election results certified". Watertown Daily Times. Retrieved .
  26. ^ John Tomasic (2009-11-04). "Musgrave to GOP: 'Don't just assume we're yours'". The Colorado Independent. Retrieved .
  27. ^ [2] Archived December 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ Vick, Karl (December 3, 2009). "N.Y. State Senate votes down gay marriage bill by wide margin". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010.
  29. ^ Hakim, Danny (November 6, 2009). "Marriage for Gays on Agenda in New York". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
  30. ^ "Long To Lorigo: Stop Running Or Resign". 2010-06-28. Archived from the original on 2012-03-14. Retrieved .
  31. ^ "Long: Even Without Lazio, Conservatives Won't Back Paladino". 2010-09-17. Archived from the original on 2010-09-25. Retrieved .
  32. ^ Jerry Zremski, Tom Precious and Robert J. McCarthy (2010-09-28). "Lazio's exit opens door for Paladino". The Buffalo News. Retrieved .
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (May 19, 2011). "Conservative Party is Obstacle to Gay Marriage". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011.
  36. ^ a b Nahimas, Laura (June 29, 2011). "Will voting for gay marriage help or hurt Republican senators". The Capitol. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2012.
  37. ^ Lovett, Kenneth (May 9, 2012). "State Sen. who voted for gay marriage one of 4 GOPers who voted for gay marriage last year, won't run for reelection - believing that vote weakened him politically". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on November 7, 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  38. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (December 13, 2012). "In Final Tally, Vote for Gay Marriage Costs 3 Republicans". The New York Times.
  39. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (September 27, 2012). "Roy J. McDonald, Republican Who Voted for Gay Marriage, Won't Pursue Third-Party Bid". The New York Times.
  40. ^ Kriss, Erik (2012-12-14). "Dem win still a loss | New York Post". Retrieved .
  41. ^ "Panepinto wins in 60th Senate District". WIVB-TV. Retrieved 2014.
  42. ^ "Democrat Marc Panepinto Claims Victory in 60th State Senate Race". Time Warner Cable. Retrieved 2014.
  43. ^ Dicker, Fredric U. (February 10, 2014). Conservative Party boss says Rob Astorino to run for gov. New York Post. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  44. ^ Lovett, Ken (April 14, 2014). Mike Long says NYS Conservative party will choose own controller candidate if GOP can't (sic). New York Daily News. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  45. ^ Breidenbach, Michelle (May 15, 2014). "New York Republicans designate Antonacci to run for state comptroller". Retrieved 2018.
  46. ^
  47. ^ Lovett, Kenneth. "NYS Conservative Party leaders back Molinaro for governor - NY Daily News". Retrieved 2018.
  48. ^ Miller, Rick (August 8, 2018). "Cattaraugus County Conservative chair: FBI to become involved in GOP takeover allegations". Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 2018.
  49. ^ "Goals 2015 | Conservative Party of New York State". Archived from the original on 2015-04-08. Retrieved .
  50. ^ James Bennet (May 16, 1993). ""Giuliani is endorsed by New York Liberal Party"". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  51. ^ [3] Archived December 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  52. ^ New York's Approval of Same-Sex Marriage Spurs Opponents for New Fights
  53. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (September 27, 2012). "Roy J. McDonald, Republican Who Voted for Gay Marriage, Won't Pursue Third-Party Bid". The New York Times.
  54. ^ Kriss, Erik (2012-12-14). "Dem win still a loss | New York Post". Retrieved .
  55. ^ Tom Wrobleski (2014-05-29). "Conservatives back 4 incumbents, but lack candidates against 2 Democrats". Retrieved .
  56. ^ a b "Conservatives biding time on Grisanti seat - City & Region". 2014-05-22. Retrieved .


External links

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