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New Chairman Vows NY Conservative Party Will Be Greater Force

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Jerry Kassar

By Tuesday, 19 March 2019 06:03 PM Current | Bio | Archive

For more than four decades, the New York Conservative Party has had an impact on its “big sister” Republican Party that few third parties have. 

So sought-after is the endorsement of the Conservatives and their “Row C” ballot line — in one of five states permitting votes to be counted for one candidate backed by multiple parties — that, with one exception, every Republican nominee for governor since 1974 has simultaneously carried the Conservative line. 

“It’s the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’ for conservative Republican nominees,” just-elected NYCP State Chairman Gerrard "Jerry" Kassar told Newsmax in a recent interview.  Underscoring his point, Kassar noted that the last New York Republican to win a U.S. House seat without Conservative blessing was Sherwood D. Boehlert, who held the Utica-area seat from 1982-2008. (Boehlert moved increasingly leftward throughout his tenure in the House and last year helped Democrats unseat conservative GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney).

Previously the Conservative Chairman of Brooklyn, Kassar was resoundingly elected last month to succeed retiring Chairman Mike Long. In its 57-year life, the Conservative Party made history in 1970 with James Buckley as the last U.S. Senator not to be elected on a major party line, with the late William Carney elected in 1978 as the first registered Conservative in the House, and Serph Maltese as the first registered Conservative in the state Senate.

But rather than dwelling on past triumphs, Kassar is focused on the future.

As he told us, “a few things we are now becoming focused on are a major social media program—Twitter, Instagram site, expanding our Facebook presence—and beginning to use podcasts and YouTube. “

In addition, Kassar vowed to take the Conservative message and agenda to younger voters through a major “outreach to millennials” program.

For all of the emphasis he places on technology and building a bridge to the future, Kassar left little doubt that the Conservative Party was not going to trim its ideological sails or do anything to water down its longtime reputation as the home of economic and cultural conservatism in a state increasingly hostile to both.

“We’re not having a discussion on our strong right-to-life position,” the chairman stressed, “We’re not the Republican Party.”

Strong words, all right, especially in a state whose legislature recently enacted a measure removing nearly all restrictions on abortion at any point in childbirth.  (Watching the cheering that followed the vote in the state Assembly, one Republican lawmaker who requested anonymity told Newsmax “I felt like I had a front-row seat in Hell”).

The vote came after the 2018 elections yielded a handsome re-election for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, continued Democratic rule of the state Assembly, and an historic Democratic takeover of the state senate for the first time since 1964. At the same time, Democrats ousted sitting Republican U.S. Representatives in three districts.

“But there’s only so much New York voters will tolerate before looking elsewhere and turning away from one-party rule in Albany,” said Kassar.  The Democrats’ push toward higher taxes and their up-front advocacy of abortion-on-demand, the Conservative chairman believes, “will produce a reaction that will overpower the advantage Democrats now hold among registered voters.”  He cited heavily Democratic Maryland and the two elections of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan as an example of what he means.

Kassar freely admits that a conservative renaissance in New York is going to take time.  In 2020, he will be focused on helping Republicans undo some of the losses they experienced in '18.  One he has particularly high hopes for is in the 11th District, which had been firmly in GOP hands for 36 out of the previous 38 years until Republican Rep. Dan Donovan was upset by Democrat Max Rose last year.  State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who earned high marks for carrying the GOP and Conservative nominations in the 2017 New York mayoral race, is the favorite to carry both again against Rose in the 11th.

“And keep your eye on Nicole,” said Kassar, “She’s a superstar.”

Whatever role the Conservative Party and its new chairman play in the years ahead in New York, few would argue that it will be consequential — and interesting to watch.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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For more than four decades, the New York Conservative Party has had an impact on its "big sister" Republican Party that few third parties have. ...
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Tuesday, 19 March 2019 06:03 PM
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