State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long believes Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino should be given “serious consideration” about a potential run for governor on the influential third party’s ballot line.

But he also said Paladino’s push to oust Republican legislative leaders in the Senate and Assembly won’t be a factor in giving him the nomination.

“It’s Carl’s fight not mine,” Long told me in a phone interview Monday morning. “I think that issue is over for this year. The legislative members have already selected their leader.”

The New York Post’s Fred Dicker reported this morning that Long believes Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will run for governor – and, perhaps more importantly, is ready to back him if he formally announces his candidacy – and that businessman Donald Trump ultimately will not.

Long confirmed in the interview that he believes Astorino is making all the moves to lay the groundwork for a statewide run for governor.

“I believe Rob is moving forward, making all the right decisions, preparing to run for governor and, I believe, ultimately runs for governor,” Long said.

Astorino last week opened a preliminary exploratory committee for governor and hired former Republican Party Executive Director Michael Lawler to run it.

But Paladino, the GOP’s 2010 nominee for governor, has repeatedly said he wants the Republican nominee to support ousting Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, or he will seek the Conservative Party’s nomination for governor.

Paladino, an enrolled Republican, would have to seek the approval from the Conservative Party in order to gain the ballot line. The Conservative Party line is a near-necessity for any Republican candidate running statewide in order to be successful, given the Democratic Party’s statewide enrollment edge.

“My hope is to have a unified ticket going forward,” Long said.

Long said Paladino’s support for kicking Kolb and Skelos out of their posts won’t be a factor for Conservative Party chairs.

“I don’t think him calling for the ouster of the Republican Party legislative leaders has anything to do with his possible candidacy for the Conservative Party nomination,” Long said. “It wouldn’t be because of that issue.”

The Conservative Party has a habit of issuing early endorsements to gubernatorial candidates in hope of influencing the GOP selection process. In 2010, Long and his executive committee members endorsed former Rep. Rick Lazio one week before the GOP convention. Lazio got the Republican nod at the convention, where Democrat-turned-Republican Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who was backed by state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, failed to get onto the ballot.

Paladino also did not receive sufficient support at the convention to get onto the ballot, but petitioned his way on instead. He defeated Lazio in the September primary, and Lazio subsequently dropped out of the race by “running” for a judgeship in the Bronx. Paladino went on to lose the November general election by a wide margin to Democratic AG Andrew Cuomo.