ALBANY — State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said he will retire next month after 30 years in that post, the longest tenured state party chair in New York.
“I will step aside,” Long, 79, told Newsday. “I wasn’t looking to break a record, but I think I did.”
Long has sparred with liberal Democrats and Republican centrists since 1987, beginning with Gov. Mario Cuomo.
Long helped bring a little-known state legislator, George Pataki, into the governor’s office for three terms, and helped Republicans maintain control of the state Senate until last November, despite a growing dominance of Democratic voters. During that time, Long supported the Republican majority in refusing Democratic attempts to strengthen abortion laws and in enacting a property tax cap and other measures aimed at controlling the growth in taxes.
Long was also part of efforts to elect Republicans to the governor’s office, none of whom have won since Pataki. But the value of the Conservative Party to the Republican Party is clear in the record: no Republican has won statewide elected office in New York without the Conservative Party’s endorsement.
"A true Marine, Mike Long's determination, grit and integrity served as a guiding light for a generation of conservative, and indeed many other, New Yorkers," said state Republican Chairman Ed Cox. "In all matters, his word was his bond."
In 2018, however, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro lost to Cuomo, and Republicans lost control of the Senate in a blue wave that Democrats credited in part to opposition to President Donald Trump. During the time, Democrats were increasing their 2-1 enrollment lead over Republicans and Cuomo had repeatedly said there was “no place in New York” for extreme conservatives.
“We didn’t win all the wars, but we made a difference,” Long told Newsday after advising his executive committee of his decision.
Long, now retired in Brooklyn, has spent 54 years working for the Conservative Party, including 17 as county chairman and 30 as state chairman. He said he thought about retiring from the post in July, but didn’t want to abandon Molinaro’s effort and then didn’t want to appear to have walked away from a fight immediately after Republicans lost the Senate.
“I’m staying in New York state and fight the good fight and I’m not going to let these characters run me out of the state; unlike what Governor Cuomo says, there is a place for people like me.”
With Rick Brand