There is more to the relationship between Democratic State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the New York State Conservative Party led by long time Chairman Michael R. Long if you dig deeper. The existing district lines for State Assembly, State Senate and Congressional representatives look like a jig saw puzzle. Every 10 years after the census, district lines have to be redrawn. The past four reapportionment’s were based upon the 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 census. This resulted in decade after decade more and more Republican State Assemblymembers permanently disappearing. Past Republican State Senate majority leaders — the late Warren Anderson and Ralph Marino along with Joe Bruno and Dean Skelos — cut deals with past Democratic State Assembly Speakers Stanley Steingut, Stanley Fink, Mel Miller, Saul Weprin and Sheldon Silver. These political back room arrangements were a quid pro quo deal preserving the status quo. Each gave the other unlimited freedom to protect and expand their respective majorities in each legislative house they controlled.
The textbook case in the ultimate success of gerrymandering, Democrats totally eliminated any GOP opportunities within NYC, outside of Staten Island. Democrats come out of NYC with a 60-to-1 edge, making it virtually impossible for the GOP to ever regain control or even have a serious role to play in the State Assembly. On Long Island, in the Hudson Valley and other communities in upstate New York — they packed as many Republicans as possible into as few districts as possible creating 30 more safe Democratic Assembly seats. Many of the upstate seats are based in Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo and other smaller cities along with surrounding suburban areas. Silver is assured over 100 votes which is more than necessary to override any vetoes of bills by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Everyone knows that Silver rules the State Assembly with an iron hand. He controls whose bills come out of committee to a full vote, lulus for chairing committees, funding for member item pork barrel projects, staffing, mailings and district office budgets. Likewise, the Republican Senate majority leader Dean Skelos does the same. As two of the infamous “Three Men In the Room” — change will only come to Albany with an honest reapportionment and election of a new governor, state Senate majority leader and state Assembly speaker.
If you like the status quo of financial mismanagement, runaway borrowing, deficit spending, late budgets, pork barrel member item spending, excessive special interest Pay-for-Play lobbying and legislative chaos in Albany, Speaker Silver and his Democratic colleagues are the right crew for the job.
The Conservative Party continues to serve as an enabler to Silver by leaving their ballot line blank rather than cross endorse Republican challenger Wave Chan in Silver’s home 65th Manhattan Assembly District. Likewise, they gave New York County Democratic Party Chairperson Herman D. Farrell, Jr. and former Kings County Democratic Party Chairperson Vito Lopez a free pass. Even worse, the Conservatives cross endorsed Democrat Assemblymembers Philip Goldfeder (23rd Queens County), Michael A. Simanowitz (27th Queens County), Paul D. Saryian (54th Kings County), Michael Cusick (63rd Richmond County), Robin Schimminger (140th Erie County) and Dennis H. Gabryszak (143rd Erie County). All six will abandon any loyalty to Conservative Party platform and principles by voting to re-elect Silver speaker preserving the status quo in Albany. This will also insure Silver has over 100 votes which affords him the upper hand in being able override any of their pet bills vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
This gang of six are not about to give up their piece of the action including lulus for chairing committees, funding of pork barrel projects, passage of favorable legislation they sponsor in exchange for “Pay for Play” campaign contributions from the infamous Albany State Street lobbyists, staffing, mailing and district office budgets all controlled by Silver. Even worse, in addition to the Conservative Party failure to run a candidate against Silver, they assisted him by leaving their line blank in 16 other state Assembly districts represented by entrenched Silver Democratic loyalists rather than cross endorsing the underdog Republican challenger. (Source: New York State Board of Elections). There are also 9 other districts were the incumbent Democratic State Assemblymembers are assured re-election. This is due to the opposition vote being split between separate Republican and Conservative Party candidates. Add to this political hall of shame, 35 additional state Assembly districts which both the Republican and Conservatives failed to field any candidate against the incumbent Democratic Assemblymember.
At the end of the day, Mike Long and the Conservative Party talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk when it comes to seriously campaigning against and attempting to unseat Democratic Speaker Silver and his political allies.