By William Lewis
At the state Conservative Party convention, held several weeks ago at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan, I conducted an interview with the party chairman, Michael Long. It was at that convention that attorney Wendy Long — no relation to Michael Long — received the unanimous vote of the delegates for the party’s nomination to the U.S. Senate.
Michael Long mentioned that the Conservative Party has just celebrated its 50th anniversary, having been formed in 1962. He believes this year may be the most important political year in terms of the presidential election and all other federal and state elections, since the direction of the country is at stake.
He indicated that the Conservative Party has grown in recent years, especially in the suburbs. He mentioned Suffolk County as an example of an area in which the party has grown.
At an earlier Conservative Party function in Albany, in which Wendy Long addressed the guests, she was well-received to the extent that Michael Long referred to her as a political superstar. He made that observation after seeing the enthusiastic reception Wendy Long received from the guests at the Albany dinner.
I asked Michael Long what he considered to be the most important accomplishments of the Conservative Party during its existence. He said they included James Buckley’s winning a Senate seat in 1970, the defeat of Jacob Javits in 1980 by Al D’Amato and the party providing the margin of victory in New York state to President Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.
Michael Long emphasized that the Conservative Party intends to give a lot of effort this year to the Senate race by supporting Wendy Long in her campaign to defeat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
With U.S. Rep. Robert Turner (R-Middle Village) as her main opponent in the June Republican primary, Michael Long believes Turner should not be running for the Senate but instead for the House of Representatives, even if the congressional district is considerably different from the one in which he was originally elected.
He indicated that some of the main issues the Conservative Party will be addressing this year include creating jobs, deficit spending, establishing a pro-growth economy and getting rid of Obamacare.
Michael Long indicated that the strong Conservative Party endorsement Wendy Long received at the party convention will be helpful to her in winning the Republican June primary for the Senate.
He believes the Conservative Party has stayed much the same as when it was first formed in 1962 and sees a bright future for the party during the next 50 years.
It can be said that third parties can and do have a lot of influence over which candidates from the major parties win elections. Presently, in addition to the Conservative Party, we have other third parties such as the Independence and Working Families parties. It is these third parties in which candidates of the two major parties seek endorsements.
This year brings a most unusual political process, since redistricting has changed the political landscape considerably. There has been a radical restructuring of some key congressional, state Senate and state Assembly districts.
This is especially true of the newly created 6th Congressional District in Queens, which took the place of Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D-Bayside) district. Ackerman is not running for re-election this year. Whoever wins the Democratic Party primary in that district will face City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) in the fall general election.
This should prove to be one of the most interesting congressional races in New York City.