The following appears in the September 26-October 2, 2014 issue of the Long Island Business News:
After writing this biweekly LIBN column for more than five years, I presume readers know that fiscally, economically and culturally, I’m a small “c” conservative. But I’m also a member of the New York Conservative Party, which I suppose makes me a large “C” as well.
Back in 1965, when I was 13, I handed out fliers on Brooklyn street corners for William F. Buckley Jr., founder of the modern conservative movement. At the time, he was the Conservative Party’s NYC mayoral candidate, running against the very liberal John Vliet Lindsay.
In 1993, I followed in Buckley’s footsteps and ran for mayor on the Conservative line against Mayor David Dinkins and the candidate of the Republican and Liberal parties, Rudy Giuliani. To help celebrate the party’s 40th anniversary in 2002, I even wrote a book: “Fighting the Good Fight: A History of the New York Conservative Party” (St. Augustine’s Press).
The Conservative Party was founded in 1962 to serve ideals first. Throughout its history, the party has been the guardian of working-class New Yorkers – men and women who subscribe to the belief that to be a good citizen, it’s essential to love family, country, neighborhood and God, and just as important to respect an ethic of hard work.
Thanks to the dedication of the party’s founders and many of its leaders, who eschewed personal gain, Ronald Reagan said, “The Conservative Party has established itself as a pre-eminent force in New York politics and an important part of our political history.”
This brings me to the present state of the Conservative Party on Long Island. Right now, Suffolk County Chairman Ed Walsh is being investigated by the FBI over allegations that he collected his salary as a county Corrections Department lieutenant for hours he did not work; the county sheriff is attempting to fire him. According to records disclosed in Newsday, Walsh collected more than $250,000 in salary and overtime from the sheriff’s office in 2013 and another $60,000 from the Suffolk Conservative Party.
Longtime local party activist Michael O’Donohoe said the allegations have “tainted” the Conservative line and he fears that members dedicated to its principles will “abandon the county party if it’s known for bloated salaries and political connections.”
For the good of the party, Mr. Walsh should have stepped down as chairman, at least until the investigation is over. But no, that was asking too much – and sadly, his rubber-stamp county committee elected him to another two-year term Sept. 17.
As for the Nassau County Conservative Party, its leader, Danny Donovan, claims he champions traditional cultural beliefs, and says candidates seeking the party’s nomination must be pro-life and pro-traditional marriage. That standard, however, didn’t apply in the 4th Congressional District this year.
Instead of choosing Republican Frank Scaturro, a true conservative intellect and dedicated activist, the party nominated pro-abortion Bruce Blakeman to oppose Democrat Kathleen Rice.
Blakeman, one of GOP boss Joe Mondello’s favorite political hacks, not only lacks intellectual depth but has proven to be an inept candidate. In 1998, he was creamed by Carl McCall in the race for state comptroller. One year later, voters booted him out of the county legislature for supporting a 9-percent property-tax increase. And in 2010, he never got to the starting gate to run against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, soundly rejected by both the Republican and Conservative parties.
Unlike Nassau County Conservative Party leaders, I won’t abandon my principles – and therefore, I won’t vote for Bruce Blakeman. Instead, I’ll write in Frank Scaturro for Congress in the 4th C.D. on Election Day. I urge all right-minded Conservatives to do the same.
If the Conservative Party is to endure, its time for the rank-and-file to send a strong message to Long Island leaders: Principles matter more than patronage, financial gain and political cronyism.