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Michael Torres elected Suffolk Conservative Party chairman

Michael Torres in 2014.

Michael Torres in 2014.  Credit: James Carbone

Michael Torres, a former chairman of the Islip Town Conservative Party, has been elected to lead the Suffolk County Conservatives.

Torres, 47, of Eastport, was unanimously elected Tuesday at a convention at the IBEW 25 union hall in Hauppauge. About 75 committee members attended the socially distant event — which in normal times draws about 800 participants — and about 600 people voted by proxy to comply with health guidelines, officials said.

Torres succeeds Frank Tinari, who stepped down from his post to serve as vice chair of the state Conservative Party.

Torres, deputy director of operations for the Suffolk County Off-Track Betting Corp., is a past chairman of the Islip Town Conservatives.

In an interview, Torres said his primary goal is to "get more elected Conservatives in office."

Tinari said he believes the Suffolk Conservative Party — the largest in the state — is in a strong position with Torres as leader after a "turbulent" period over the past few years.

Tinari became chairman in 2016 after former chair Edward Walsh was convicted of federal charges for illegally collecting pay from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department while golfing, gambling and politicking on county time.

"I’m confident that Mike Torres is going to do an excellent job increasing the role of the Suffolk County Conservative Party," said Tinari, who also was elected Huntington Conservative leader Tuesday.

"He’s tough, and he will protect and defend his party," county Republican chairman Jesse Garcia said of Torres.

Torres, the county Conservatives' first Hispanic chairman, worked previously for the county Board of Elections in a patronage job controlled by Republicans.

Torres was fired in 2015, but in a subsequent federal lawsuit he asserted he was dismissed because he refused to endorse a particular GOP judicial candidate. The case was dismissed in March, records show.

In 2017, Torres pleaded guilty to a noncriminal violation of disorderly conduct for failing to disclose on a 2013 Islip Town Board of Reassessment Review application that he had a prior misdemeanor conviction for promoting gambling.

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