The Conservative Party of New York State

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The Conservative Party of New York State is a political party in New York State that was formed in 1962 in response to the liberal leanings of the state Republican Party (which was dominated by then Governor Nelson Rockefeller). It remains an influential third party in that very liberal state. Though it keeps its independence from the state Republican Party, it consistently endorses the Republican Party for President. In state elections, ever since Nelson Rockefeller left the Governorship, it also has been cross-endorsing Republican candidates for governor and most other offices (but not always without interparty strife with the Republicans and intra-party strife within the Conservative Party).[1] This practice is legal in New York, one of only a few states that still allow electoral fusion.

Because of New York State's fusion voting, a candidate can be the nominee of more than one political party. The Conservative Party therefore can either nominate the candidate of the Republican Party (or very rarely, the Democratic Party or another party), or run their own candidate. This way if the Republican candidate is too liberal, the Conservative Party can deny them their ballot line and run against them, but if the Republican candidate is a conservative, people can vote for them on the Conservative or Republican ballot lines and either way will count toward that candidate's total vote.

James L. Buckley was elected to the United States Senate in 1970 running on the Conservative Party ticket (and only the Conservative Party ticket; the Republican nominee was liberal Republican Charles Goodell.) In a three-way race with the Republican and Democrat nominees splitting the liberal vote, Buckley easily won election and served one term from 1971-1977, becoming the last "third party" candidate to ever win election to the U.S. Senate (Dean Barkley was the most recent "third party" senator but he was appointed to fill a vacant seat, not elected.)

Doug Hoffman is running in the special election for New York Congressional seat 23 in 2009, and has received the endorsement of numerous conservative and Republican leaders.


The Conservative Party of New York State was founded in 1962 by a small group that included the conservative Charles Edison, the former governor of New Jersey and the son of the prolific inventor Thomas Edison, along with J. Daniel Mahoney and Charles E. Rice. The party was founded to provide an alternative to the three existing liberal political parties in New York, which included the Rockefeller-controlled Republican Party.

In 1970, the Conservative Party had widespread success, electing James L. Buckley to the U.S. Senate, William Carney to the House of Representatives, Rosemary R. Gunning and Charles Jerabec to the State Assembly, and Serphin R. Maltese to the State Senate.

In 1994 the Conservative Party provided the margin of victory to Governor George E. Pataki, giving him 326,605 votes cast on the Conservative Party line. That total grew to 348,272 votes for Governor George E. Pataki on the Conservative Party line in 1998, helping him win again.

The Conservative Party helped pass term limits and helped defeat the $2.4 billion School Bond Act in 1997, despite being outspent by a 6 to 1 margin.

In 2001, the Conservative Party Executive Vice Chairman James P. Molinaro won as the Borough President of Staten Island, and was reelected in 2005.

President Ronald Reagan declared: “The Conservative Party has established itself as a preeminent force in New York Politics and an important part of our political history.”[2]

In 2010, Rick Lazio won the Conservative Party Primary for Governor, while Tea Party-backed Carl Paladino shocked Lazio in the Republican Primary. Lazio then withdrew from the race and accepted a judicial nomination, and Paladino appeared on the Conservative line as well.