- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2002

NEW YORK Vice President Richard B. Cheney, New York Gov. George E. Pataki and National Review magazine founder William F. Buckley Jr. last night celebrated the 40th anniversary of the New York State Conservative Party.
"I'm very positive about the future," party Chairman Michael R. Long told about 1,000 people attending the banquet at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in Midtown Manhattan. "As we do in every election, we'll provide the winning margin for federal, state and local candidates."
He said the party's founding principles of reduced government and taxes, economic growth and family values are "just as valid today as they were 40 years ago and will be just as valid 40 years from now."
The Conservative Party, founded to counter the chokehold that the New York State Liberal Party once had on politics in the state, has had notable successes.
It helped defeat liberal incumbent Sen. Jacob Javits, a Republican, when conservative Republican Al D'Amato won the U.S. Senate contest in 1980.
"Javits was the liberal icon of the Eastern seaboard and maybe of America at the time," Mr. Long recalled.
The Conservative Party is credited with providing the winning margin for Mr. Pataki when he scored one of the biggest upsets in recent New York political history, defeating incumbent Democrat Gov. Mario Cuomo, who was seeking his fourth term. Mr. Cuomo was even more of a liberal icon nationally than Mr. Javits.
Mr. Buckley was one of the founders of the party, which was established at a mass meeting of conservatives at the old Madison Square Garden in 1962.
Three years later, Mr. Buckley ran for New York City mayor on the Conservative Party ticket, but was defeated by John Lindsey, a liberal "Rockefeller Republican" who was the endorsed candidate of the Republican Party.
But Mr. Buckley, in winning 360,000 votes, established the Conservative Party as a force in New York politics.
"It brought us national focus and put the party on the map," Mr. Long said.
At last night's banquet, Mr. Buckley drew cheers by saying that "Mike Long, like National Review, will live forever."
Mr. Buckley's brother, James, ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1968 and got more than 1 million votes statewide. In 1970, he ran again, and this time won, garnering more than 2 million votes on the Conservative Party line alone.
The other principal party founders were the late Dan Mahoney, who was later appointed a federal judge by President Reagan, and Kiren O'Doherty, a lawyer and the first chairman of the party.
Mr. Cheney's appearance was considered a coup for the Conservative Party and for Mr. Pataki, who is running for re-election in November but who is not considered by many conservatives to be "one of us."
There was speculation at a reception before the dinner that Mr. Pataki's re-election matters to the White House because health problems may force Mr. Cheney off the presidential ticket in 2004 and Mr. Pataki would be the ideal choice to replace him.
But veteran conservatives such as publisher Steve Forbes had more modest goals for Mr. Pataki.
"Pataki is important to keep as governor because he provides a toehold for us in the Northeast," said Mr. Forbes, who sought the Republican presidential nomination himself in 1996 and 2000.


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