The state Conservative Party has endorsed Dutchess Legislator Susan Serino to challenge Democratic Sen. Terry Gipson this fall, guaranteeing her a second line on the general election ballot regardless of how she fares in the September GOP primary.

“Sue Serino has unfailingly advocated for fiscal responsibility and limited government,” said stateConservative Party Chairman Mike Long. “She has used her experience and knowledge to make sure government makes smart, sensible choices when it comes to spending our hard-earned tax dollars.”

The political establishment has quickly lined up behind Serino despite her late entry into this race, which has had a number of twists and turns in recent months. She was the fourth Republican to enter the race, but two – Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Rob Rolison and County Comptroller James Coughlan – have dropped out.

Coughlan had the Conservative and Independence lines before he was forced to end his campaign due to a scandal over inappropriate and racial tweets. The Independence Party quickly switched its support to Serino just days after she threw her hat into the ring in mid-May, calling its about-face on Coughlan “both appropriate and justified.”

Before turning her attention to ousting Gipson, a freshman Democrat who won a narrow victory against former GOP Sen. Steve Saland two years ago, Serino must first defeat her fellow Republican, Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik. The mayor recently landed the support of 2010 GOP/Conservative gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who said Tkazyik “has a proven track record of cutting spending four straight years, cutting the city’s debt and reducing the size of bureaucracy.”

UPDATE: A reader rightly points out that Serino is not necessarily guaranteed the Conservative and Independence lines, since she could be primaried by a registered member of one or both parties who circulates petitions to get onto the ballot. Serino is a Republican, and so needed a Wilson Pakula from the minor parties’ respective leaders in order to run on.