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Conservatives may wait to endorse until Levy, Lazio screened

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy speaks about his

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy speaks about his run for Governor in the State Capital Building, March 8, 2010 in Albany. Credit: Steve Jacobs

John Andrew Kay, a state Conservative Party vice chairman, said he will propose the party put off its gubernatorial endorsement until the executive committee can screen both Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and former Rep. Rick Lazio.

The Suffolk minor party official said he plans to make a motion at the Conservative executive committee meeting at state party headquarters in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon based on Levy's planned enrollment change to Republican Friday.

Kay, who describes state party leader Michael Long as his closest friend and the godfather of his daughter, said the state leader "did absolutely the right thing" in calling the meeting, which has put the party's gubernatorial endorsement on the agenda.

He said Long, in effect, is forcing Levy to make the switch. But Kay added, "I hope he can be persuaded to give Republican Steve Levy a fair hearing."

Long said in an interview Thursday he still backs Lazio and will press the executive committee to endorse the former congressman. He said Levy is entering the race too late.

"There's going to be people fighting to put off any kind of decision," Long said. "But I don't think that's advisable or healthy for the party to do that."

But Kay questioned whether Lazio can succeed.

"My question for everyone is, would you vote for a candidate for governor who worked for the bank that took bailout money and then received a $1.3-million bonus the same year - and argues he earned it?" he said. "That's why his candidacy is in such trouble."

With Elizabeth Moore

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