Conservative Party rates Senate Republicans too accommodating

By Jimmy Vielkind

1:33 pm Oct. 15, 2013

ALBANY—The majority of Republicans in the State Senate got failing grades in annual rankings published today by the state’s Conservative Party.

Seven G.O.P. senators—Jim Seward, Lee Zeldin, Mike Nozzolio, Joe Griffo, Pat Gallivan, Greg Ball and  John DeFrancisco—received grades over 65 percent. Almost all of them voted against the SAFE Act, a new gun control law pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which the Conservatives rated heavily in their annual rankings. (Zeldin was absent on military duty, but indicated he would have voted no.)

That legislation was the only one double-rated by the Conservatives. They also considered bills capping state spending, restoring school aid cuts and increasing access to abortion.

“Voters should review our ratings and remind their legislators that conservatism works for taxpayers and for businesses,” said Conservative Party chairman Mike Long. “Cutting taxes and regulations is the only way New York will return to its Empire State status.”

Senate Republicans this year held the majority by allying themselves with a four-member mini-conference of renegade Democrats. As such, they were pushed to approve some more progressive-leaning items—most notably the SAFE Act and an increase in the minimum wage—than they might have otherwise. The Conservative Party provides a critical buttress for many Republicans, who under New York’s system of fusion voting benefit from having their name appear on both the G.O.P. and Conservative lines.

In 2010, the Conservatives displayed their might and helped knock out two G.O.P. senators who crossed party lines to support same-sex marriage: Roy McDonald and Steve Saland. It’s too soon to tell whether the SAFE Act will also result in new primary challenges.