Mike Long

Conservative Party Decries Cuomo Immigration Executive Order

Not surprisingly, the state Conservative Party is speaking out in opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new executive order that prohibits state agencies – including law enforcement officers – from asking individuals about their immigration status unless required by law to do so.

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said the governor’s effort actually “undermines the very essence of what made New York State the Empire State,” because it seeks to protect people regardless of whether they are in the country legally.

In Long’s opinion, the immigrants who are the backbone of this state came to the country legally, and those who don’t go through the proper channels to come here should not receive special treatment.

“They stood in line and respected the rule of law,” the chairman said of legal immigrants. “New York’s Ellis Island welcomed and processed almost 40 percent of the legal immigrants that have come to America.

“We are proud of being a melting pot of legal immigration,” Long continued. “It is illegal immigration that we oppose; when you enter illegally you make the statement that the rule of law does not apply to you.”

“Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order gives immigrants who have entered our beloved country illegally his blessing to disregard the rule of law and allows illegal immigrants to reap the benefits created by a society that is based on the rule of law.”

Conservative Chair: Vote ‘No’ On Grisanti

State Conservative Chairman Mike Long weighed in on one of the state’s most hotly contested Senate races, urging conservative voters to reject GOP Sen. Mark Grisanti’s long-shot re-election bid on the Independence Party line.

During a CapTon interview last Friday night, Long said he is “no fan” of Grisanti’s, accusing the senator of “breaking faith” with conservatives when he voted “yes” on same-sex marriage and the SAFE Act.

“I’m not looking to champion his re-election as a state senator on the Independence line,” Long said of Grisanti.

“I would encourage Conservatives to send a very clear message for Albany – conservative-minded Democrats, conservative Republicans – vote for the Conservative Party candidate for state Senate, vote for someone who believes in the principles that they believe in.”

The Conservative Party candidate is attorney Tim Gallagher, who was tapped to run on Row C back in May. At the time, Gallagher was believed to be a placeholder, but the party has made no effort to remove him from the ballot.

Long’s comments are a blow to the Senate Republicans, whose leader, Sen. Dean Skelos, has endorsed Grisanti, despite the fact that the senator lost the September GOP primary to Kevin Stocker.

Skelos said last week that he doesn’t know Stocker, and the candidate hasn’t reached out to the Senate GOP for assistance. Stocker has repeatedly refused to say if he would caucus with his fellow Republicans – or support Skelos for leader – if he’s elected next month.

The SRCC recently released a TV ad that blasted the Democratic candidate in this four-way race – Marc Panepinto – but didn’t support any of his opponents.

Long insisted that he supports a Republican takeover of the Senate, saying it will be a “very dark-looking state if the Democrats gain control, total control of the Senate.”

“I believe we have a shot to win the Senate; I believe we can do that without Grisanti,” the chairman said.

“I’m doing everything I can to help any candidates throughout the state of New York that’s running on the Conservative-Republican line.”

Thanks to his gay marriage vote, Grisanti didn’t have the Conservative line in the 2012 election. (The Erie County Conservatives backed a Democrat, while the Niagara County Conservatives continued to back the senator).

Grisanti managed to win that fall with about 50 percent of the vote, but – unlike this year – he had both the GOP line and the Independence Party line.

Conservatives Back Stefanik In NY-21 (Updated)

The state Conservative Party has given its nod to Elise Stefanik, one of two Republicans contenders (as of today) vying for the North Country House seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, ensuring her a ballot line in the November general election regardless of the outcome of the June GOP primary.

In a statement released by Stefanik’s campaign, state Conservative Chairman Mike Long praised her “energy” and “enthusiasm” and said she has “the principles to bring about the changes necessary in the halls of Congress.”

“She will fight for what is right for the citizens of New York’s 21st, the military at Fort Drum, stand firm for our Constitutional rights and protect our natural resources for future farmers and generations to come,” Long continued. “Elise Stefanik will be your strong voice when she gets to Congress and will represent you with honor and integrity.”

Stefanik has now been officially endorsed by officials in both the Conservative and Republican parties – a blog to her primary opponent, Matt Doheny, who ran on both lines two years ago in his second failed attempt to unseat Owens. Doheny did not have the Conservative line for his 2010 run. The party instead endorsed Doug Hoffman, who lost to Doheny in the GOP primary that year and dropped out the race, but too late to have his name removed from the general election ballot.

Because neither Stefanik nor Doheny is a registered Republican Conservative, they both needed formal permission – known as a Wilson Pakula – from the Conservative Party in order to run on its line. Stefanik’s press release announcing today’s endorsement makes clear that as a result of this decision, there will be no primary battle for Row C.

Also today, Tea Partier Joe Gilbert confirmed to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that he is dropping out of the GOP primary, due to “family reasons.” Gilbert said he may still seek independent petitions to run on the Constitution Party line. The minor party does not have official party status and, according to the ADE, has had problems with ballot access in the past.

Gilbert’s departure from the race leaves just Stefanik and Doheny duking it out for the GOP line.

On the Democratic side, Steven Burke, a town councilman in Macomb and former St. Lawrence Democratic Party chairman, and Brooklyn filmmaker Aaron Woolf have both filed petitions to run on Row A. The Democratic county chairs have endorsed Woolf. UPDATE: I’m told by Woolf’s campaign that he hasn’t lived in the borough of Brooklyn for some time, but he does reportedly split his time between “New York City” and Elizabethtown, and says he considers the latter his primary residence.

UPDATE: Doheny released a statement in response to Stefanik’s endorsement by the Conservatives, calling it a “shocking” move by party officials that ignores the will of rank-and-file members who signed his nominating petitions and backed him two years ago.

“In denying conservative voters in the 21st Congressional district a choice, the party insiders and their Washington based power brokers have subverted the clear will of the people,” Doheny said. “Our campaign received the support of five county committees and incredibly almost 1 out of every 5 conservatives signed our petition. In 2012, as the Conservative Party nominee I garnered 12,000 votes on the line and I’m no less a conservative today. The sad fact is the Executive Committee of the State Conservative Party is just another Big Brother.”

Dohney has been endorsed by the state Independence Party, which means he also has an assured spot on the general election ballot should he lose the GOP primary.

Paladino Considers Running For Governor On His Own Line

Besides a possible challenge from Donald Trump, Westerchester County Executive Rob Astorino could still be facing a challenge from former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, but not on the conservative line.  While reacting to the likelihood Astorino will indeed announce he’s running for governor, Paladino acknowledged he may need a new line on the ballot if he decides to challenge Astorino.

“Mike Long appears to be supporting Astorino right now so it would have to be a new party line that I would form.  I don’t know why Mike Long took the position he did I can’t answer that.  But I certainly respect him,” Paladino said.

Paladino is not backing off of his promise to challenge Astorino if he doesn’t call for the removal of Republican State Senator Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.

“If he (Astorino) comes out and denounces these people and purges them from the party I will campaign for him.  How can you run for governor of the state of New York if your supposed supporters are in bed with your opponent?  It doesn’t make any sense.  Donald Trump would bury them,” said Paladino.

The Buffalo Businessman continues to believe Trump is the man for the job.  While many continue to believe “Trump for Governor” is a pipe dream Paladino isn’t wavering.

“I respect Rob Astroino and expect him to do the right thing if he gets the opportunity.  I don’t think the opportunity is going to be there because I think Donald Trump is going to announce that he is going to run for that office,” Paladino added.

Paladino On Trump: ‘He’s Running’

Despite what appears to be a new effort to convince Carl Paladino to run for New York Comptroller the Buffalo Businessman says he has one focus right now.

“Getting Donald Trump to run for governor,” Paladino said.

The 2010 Republican Gubernatorial Candidate told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen, Tuesday night, he believes recent public comments by State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long are designed to put pressure on Trump.

“What they’re doing right now is playing cards. So Astorino and Cox and Mike Long, they’ve come out and they’ve said ‘Trump, make up your mind and tell us what you’re going to do.’  And I would expect that Mr. Trump is going to come out and say it very soon. He’s going to say that he’s running,” said Paladino.

It’s not just Trump’s potential competition that seems to be getting antsy.  Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy is hoping to get some answers during an afternoon meeting with Trump, Wednesday in Manhattan.

“I guess what we’re looking for is a signal from Mr. Trump. Is he going to take those next steps and move ahead with this or not?” Langworthy asked.

Langworthy will join several other county republican chairs and the two Western New York State Assemblymen who came up with the “Draft Trump” idea at Trump Tower.  He expects others at the meeting to ask similar questions.

“The ball’s in Mr. Trump’s court on how serious he’s going to take this process. I mean is he going to take some tangible steps forward?”

Gaining Nick Langworthy’s support has seemed more important this election cycle than ever before.  Following Paladino’s successful primary win over Rick Lazio, Buffalo has been an important area for anyone considering a run for governor.

Langworthy’s committee has hosted both Astorino and Trump at fundraising events in the last few months.  Langworthy helped author Paladino’s successful primary bid four years ago but has no interest in a primary this time around.

“We’re into February and it’s time that we start rounding out our ticket. We ultimately will nominate candidates in May, but we have to recruit candidates for Comptroller and Attorney General for the state.  So it’s important we get clarity at the top of the ticket,” Langworthy said.

Paladino, who will not be attending Wednesday’s meeting, says Trump will not bend to what he called pressure from Mike Long, Dean Skelos, or anybody else.

“He’ll make his statement when he’s ready and I admire him for that. Donald Trump will demolish Andrew Cuomo. He’ll demolish people like Dean Skelos,” said Paladino.

As for Paladino’s future he declined to comment on speculation he’ll challenge Astorino on the Conservative Party Line if Trump drops out.  He also dismissed the effort to convince him to run for Comptroller, for now.

“They’re trying to divert my attention from Trump. I’ve been working really hard on getting Donald Trump to run for this and I feel very sincerely that he will. (I have) laser focus.  We’re doing it. We’re bringing all these county chairs there tomorrow and it’s going to be a nice conclave they’re going to have there in New York,” Paladino added.

Long: Ousting Skelos And Kolb Not An Issue

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.

State Conservative Party’s Triple Threat

ICYMI: State Conservative Party Mike Long joined me on CapTon last night for a recap of his annual political conference, which took place this past Sunday and Monday at a hotel outside Albany.

During our conversation the issue of so-called “litmus tests” for endorsements came up. That’s of particular interest in this election year – a year that arguably could make or break the Senate Republicans. Long, as you’ll recall, made same-sex marriage a line-in-the-sand issue, refusing to endorse any Republican who voted “yes” on the measure. Of the four GOP senators who voted “yes” – Steve Saland, Roy McDonald, Jim Alesi and Mark Grisanti – only Grisanti is still in office.

Long is not drawing any such lines this year – not even on the SAFE Act, which continues to anger many of his members. In a separate interview with Capital NY, Long said medical marijuana, which the Conservative Party also officially opposes, won’t be a stand-alone litmus test, either.

However, both those votes will be doubled rated when the Conservative Party puts together its voting scorecard of lawmakers. Other issues that will receive the same treatment include legislation that would allow NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to raise income taxes on the rich to fund pre-K, the public campaign finance bill and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act (assuming that it includes the abortion-rights plank, which is the piece the right finds most offensive).

Long said he annonuced these double-rated bills at the legislative reception that closed out his conference Monday night. He also told me that there have only been two line-in-the-sand issues since he’s been chairman: Gay marriage and partial birth abortion. Vote “yes” on either of those, and there’s no way the Conservative Party would even consider backing you.

“If a person running has a good record on everything else, but falls short on one of these, he wouldn’t necessarily lose the endorsement,” Long told me during a brief telephone interview earlier today. “But I got news for you: If all those hit the floor and you vote for all three, that’s pretty close to getting the rug pulled from under you.”

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Paladino Says Trump Is Serious About Running

Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino told members of the state Conservative Party on Sunday that real-estate mogul Donald Trump is serious about running for governor this year, but remains leery of a Republican primary.

“I feel very solidly we’re going to hear good things from Donald Trump,” Paladino said.

An audience member pointed out in a question-and-answer session that Trump has flirted with running for public office before – most notably president in 2012 – only to back out, Paladino shot back at him.

“You’re listening to a liberal press, emissaries of Cuomo, because he (Trump) scares the s— out of them,” Paladino said.

Perhaps most importantly for Paladino, Trump has “intestinal fortitude.”

Later with reporters, Paladino said his recent dinner with Trump convinced him that he was very seriously considering a race, but wanted to avoid a primary.

Paladino compared the situation to his 2010 campaign for governor, when former Rep. Rick Lazio was the preferred candidate of the party following the state convention. Paladino said that once he won the primary out right, the GOP establishment didn’t help him.

“Rob’s right on all of the issues. He’s a good man,” Paladino said. “But he doesn’t have the name recognition, doesn’t have the money.”

Astorino in Albany last week insisted he would be able to raise competitively against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has $33.3 million in his campaign war chest for his re-election.

Still, Paladino doesn’t think Astorino should rule out a campaign against Cuomo just yet.

“I think we should have a convention,” Paladino said. “It should be an open process. I would hope that Donald Trump would say yes, get out around the state and ask for their vote at the convention.”

Paladino also sharpened his vow to run on the Conservative Party ballot should the Republican nominee not support the ousters of Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb. He singled out Skelos in particular for “treason” over allowing a vote on the SAFE Act, the 2013 gun control law.

By the same token, Paladino hardened his position about the potential candidacy of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

On Sunday, Paladino said flatly that if Astorino’s the candidate, he’ll seek the Conservative line.

“If he (Trump) decides not to go and it’s just Rob Astorino who refuses to attack the RINOS, yeah, I’m going to run,” Paladino said.

Paladino, a registered Republican, would have to seek permission from Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long in order to run on the ballot line. Long has said that the fight over the Legislature’s leadership is not his issue.

“I told Carl that is not one of my fights,” Long said in a Talk-1300 radio interview. “That is an internal fight within the Republican Party.”

Mike Long And Ed Cox For Zeldin (Updated)

In another example of the institutional powers-that-be lining up behind Sen. Lee Zeldin’s congressional run in NY-1, state Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long – UPDATE: and state GOP Chairman Ed Cox – have issued statements in support of the Republican Long Island senator’s effort to oust Demcoratic Rep. Tim Bishop.

“The First Congressional District could not ask for a better representative than Senator Lee Zeldin,” Long said. “He not only embodies the values of New York’s Conservative Party, both personally and professionally, he has an acute understanding of the importance of preserving the rights and traditions laid out by our nation’s founding fathers.”

“And not only does he understand them, he actually put his money where his mouth is and fought for them in the U.S. Army. The fact that he was raised in the Congressional District, coupled with his experience as a military officer, former federal prosecutor and State Senator makes him uniquely-suited for the position.”

“Senator Zeldin is an independent thinker who’s not afraid to make the tough decisions that are so lacking in DC right now. With Lee as our candidate, we have the opportunity to open new dialogue and shape policy. He is exactly the sort of new blood and fresh perspective we need to put an end to the D.C. chaos.”

The Zeldin campaign’s press release on Long was quickly followed by one announcing the senator had also landed the support of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, which is particularly interesting, since Cox sat out the 2010 GOP primary because his son, Chris, was one of the contenders. (He finished last).

“As chairman of the New York State Republican Party, I look for the candidate that I know will be unwavering in representing our Party’s values to advance communities across New York,” Cox said. “Lee Zeldin is, without a doubt, that candidate.”

“An honorable and dedicated public servant with an impressive background as a military officer and former federal prosecutor, Lee has an invaluable understanding of and dedication to our nation’s Constitutional values. As a state senator, Lee has proven himself to be a man of his word, fighting tirelessly to uphold those values and fulfill his campaign promises—cutting onerous taxes and fees, creating jobs and protecting our veterans.”

“I am confident that Lee knows what it takes to make the tough decisions, to shrink government and put a stop to the economic insanity that is plaguing Washington. I am proud to endorse Lee Zeldin as our candidate for New York’s First Congressional District.”

This doesn’t bode terribly well for George Demos, who is making his third attempt at landing the GOP line to challenge Bishop.

So far, his only significant endorsement has come from former Gov. George Pataki, who used to be his boss.

Long: We’ll Go Down Without Wilson-Pakula, But We’ll Take You With Us

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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