State convention finds the GOP united but with imperfections

John Cahill, a former aide to Gov. George

John Cahill, a former aide to Gov. George Pataki, gives a thumbs up after accepting the nomination for Republic candidate for attorney general of New York at the Republican Party Convention in Rye Brook on May 14, 2104. (Credit: Craig Ruttle)

Dan Janison

Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison, Dan Janison

Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday for 10

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RYE BROOK

Every veneer of partisan unity has its imperfections.

When Westchester Executive Rob Astorino accepts the underdog Republican nomination here Thursday against Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, at least one of his ticketmates will be absent.

John Cahill, a business partner of ex-Gov. George Pataki, explained to GOP delegates as he accepted their nomination for attorney general Wednesday that he'll instead attend the opening of the 9/11 memorial museum in New York City.

But Cahill kept his remarks squarely on the same page as party colleagues. He delivered red meat to the audience with shots at the Common Core curriculum and the SAFE Act gun law. He called, as expected, for gas drilling to be allowed in the Southern Tier, and took jibes at President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

For the roll-call votes nominating Cahill and state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci, Nassau -- with the third biggest delegation in the state in terms of weighted votes -- was only minimally represented.

County chairman Joseph Mondello, whose past alienation from state chairman Ed Cox was widely publicized, cited a scheduling conflict.

But Mondello has publicly denied any slight. Despite the county's thin attendance, delegate Joseph Ra vigorously voiced support as his turn came on the convention floor to deliver proxies for Cahill and Antonacci. Also in the hall were Nassau GOP Comptroller George Maragos; Deputy Comptroller James Garner, the former Hempstead Village mayor; and Justin Hernandez, Maragos' spokesman.

At first blush, the arrival of the party's 2010 candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, might have seemed like a chilling Ghost of Schism Past. But even the irascible Buffalo real estate man -- not a popular figure among downstaters here -- was generally harmonizing with the convention message as he entered the hall.

"I recognize that the No. 1 priority is to take out Andrew Cuomo," he said, adding "there's no question at all" that Cuomo would shift leftward in a second term if he wins.

One interesting gesture came when Cahill from the rostrum hailed Paladino's activism involving public schools in Erie County.

While Nassau and Suffolk rank one and two among New York counties in Republican enrollment, the weighted votes of each are based on GOP turnout in the last statewide election. So Erie has 11.4 percent, Suffolk 9.3 percent, Nassau 9.2 percent and Westchester 5.2.

But with no visible competition for the ballot spots, the votes so far proved unanimous, rendering these percentages moot.

Suffolk Republican chairman John Jay LaValle brought a more sizable group than Nassau's. He said: "Long Island is going to be absolutely key to the election victories of Rob Astorino, Bob Antonacci and John Cahill. I'm very excited in that regard, because it puts us into play."

"We're committed to getting out there. I think Astorino is a great candidate, who speaks to Long Islanders," LaValle said. "I think you're going to see a lot of Cuomo fatigue. He can run the fancy commercials and tell a story -- more of a fable -- but the reality is, New York is not doing well."

GOP unity seems palpable overall, for now.