The recent death of Liberal Party leader Ray Harding coincides with his former party’s following the path of patronage over ideology and eventually becoming irrelevant. The Liberals lost ballot status and were replaced by the Working Families Party. While the Conservative Party worshiped at the altar of Pataki/Bruno GOP political patronage, today it receives crumbs from Senate Republican Majority Leader Skelos and GOP Assembly Minority Leader Kolb. Meanwhile the Libertarian, Green, Working Families and Independence parties stand for divergent philosophical principles.
From its successful times in the 1960s, the Conservative Party under Chairman Mike Long has morphed into the Conservative Political Patronage Party, following the same path as Harding, losing it vim and vigor. The party has been unable to prevent Republicans from losing all statewide offices and eight Senate seats, reducing them to a fragile one-seat majority. The same is true for the loss of numerous former GOP congressional and Assembly seats.
The Conservatives’ impact is diminishing on the state landscape as they are entering the twilight of political history. Their leadership and enrollment continues to both age and decline. Fewer new and younger voters are registering Conservative. Those who believe in limited government and free enterprise, along with economic and civil liberties, continue to look for other alternatives. In 2010, many voted for Kristin Davis (Anti-Prohibition), Warren Redich (Libertarian), Steve Cohen (TEA) or Carl Paladino (Taxpayers) party candidates for governor rather than Row C.
The Conservative candidate for governor in 2014 may be unable to attract the minimum 50,000 votes necessary to maintain permanent ballot status, joining the Liberal Party in political extinction.