Not surprisingly, state Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long is not at all pleased with the talk in Albany these days of going away with so-called fusion voting by repealing or amending the Wilson-Pakula statute that requires candidates who aren’t enrolled in a particular party to get permission from that party’s leaders to run on their ballot line.

New York is one of just eight states that allow cross endorsements, which are really the lifeblood of the three four third parties with ballot access – the Working Families Party, the Conservative Party and the Independence Party. Note: I forgot the Green Party, which, thanks to its 2010 gubernatorial candidate, Howie Hawkins, now has automatic ballot access through the 2014 election.

Often, a third party ballot line provides the margin of victory for candidates in close elections. (The Conservatives like to note that no statewide Republican candidate has won an election without their support since 1974). But cross endorsements are also how minor parties maintain their ballot status, since their ability to maintain their lines is contingent on their gubernatorial candidate receiving at least 50,000 votes every four years.

Needless it say, it’s alot easier for a well-known major party candidate like Andrew Cuomo to his that threshold than some no-name challenger – unless, of course, that challenger is really controversial (like Carl Paladino) or really rich (like Tom Golisano, whose self-funded and unsuccessful quest to win the governor’s office created the Independence Party).

Cuomo has not yet formally proposed any electoral reforms in the wake of last week’s back-to-back corruption scandals, but he has talked about the possibility of rescinding the Wilson-Pakula law following Democratic Sen. Malcolm Smith’s arrest for allegeding trying to bribe his way onto the GOP line in the New York City mayor’s race.

The idea now has some legs, thanks to IDC leader Jeff Klein’s wide-ranging campaign finance/electoral reform proposal that includes repeal of Wilson-Pakula.

In a CapTon interview that will air tonight at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., Long called ending Wilson-Pakula a “wrong headed” idea that would provide “an easy way out” for the governor. And he warned that minor parties like his won’t be the only casualties of this change.

“In his mind, it makes it look like he’s really doing some big reform,” the chairman said. “If they do away with Wilson-Pakula, and do away fusion voting eventually, we would probably go out of business but we’re not going to go out of business right away.”

“So, an awful lot of people are going to get hurt in the process because we’re going to run canddiates up and down the state of New York on the Conservative Party line. We’ll run ‘em for governor, United States Senate, Assembly, Senate. If that’s what he wants to do, that’s exactly what we’ll do.”

“…Why do this feel good reform? Why not do something that has teeth in it, like making it very clear to those who have the public trust, those who get elected to office…that if they break the law and teh game the system and they’re found guilty and they’re convicted of a felony, guess what? You just lost your pension.”

(For the record, Long doesn’t like public campaign financing, either).

It seems highly unlikely that the Wilson-Pakula piece will end up in the final reform deal – assuming there is one – agreed to by y the legislative leaders and Cuomo, although much depends on how hard the governor pushes for this particular change.

I can’t imagine that either Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, whose members benefit greatly from the Conservative Party’s line; or Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has the same situation with the labor-backed Working Families Party; is going to go along with this at the end of the day.

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