From the Morning Memo:

Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long in a radio interview this weekend pledged “grassroots level” support for the Republican candidate running in the district vacated by former Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

That includes contacting tea party members who were not pleased with Skelos’s tenure in office, but could back first-time candidate Chris McGrath, Long told Bill Samuels on AM970’s Effective Radio.

Conservative Republicans had been deeply skeptical of Skelos for a variety of reasons, including allowing votes on the legalization of same-sex marriage and the gun control law known as the SAFE Act. At the same time, Skelos was seen by some conservative voters as not doing more to help the 2014 nominee for governor, Rob Astorino.

“They were very anti-Dean Skelos. I think I’ve turned that around,” Long said. They’re now pro-Chris McGrath, who is the conservative Republican candidate. My hope is that he is able to pull this off so within my own personal limitations and within the party’s limitations we’re making every effort to hold on to that seat.”

Republicans are fighting to maintain the Nassau County Senate district following Skelos’s automatic removal from office in December when he was found guilty of felony corruption charges.

Democratic Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky is competing for the seat in the April 19 special election.