New York’s Republican senate primary, for this fall’s election against Kirsten Gillibrand, has rapidly become more exciting than one might expect, and this isn’t necessarily a good thing for New York conservatives.
The New York Republican party will decide their nominee tomorrow at their convention in Rochester, and four Republicans so far have declared their candidacy: Wendy Long, an attorney and former counsel to the Judicial Crisis Network; George Maragos, comptroller for Nassau County; Joe Carvin, town supervisor and businessman from Rye; and Bob Turner, former TV executive and current representative for New York’s 9th Congressional District.
Turner, as a current congressman, is the most prominent candidate, and has demonstrated a real ability to win over a Democratic electorate, having defeated David Weprin in deep blue Brooklyn and Queens in a special election last fall. He has entered the race very late, however, announcing that he would run just this past Tuesday, after finding out that his own congressional district will almost definitely be eliminated in this year’s redistricting. In recent days, he has garnered the endorsements of, among others, the Bronx, New York, and Brooklyn Republican Committees.
Given his prominence, Turner may well win the Republican nomination tomorrow, and a representative for his campaign says that they “feel like they have plenty of momentum, and are feeling good going into tomorrow.” But even then, there isn’t a clear path to oppose Kirsten Gillibrand: New York’s Conservative party, the party of Senator James L. Buckley, isn’t necessarily going to endorse the Republican nominee, as they typically do. In fact, the Conservative party’s chairman, Mike Long, has indicated that he’ll support Wendy Long, not Turner, for his party’s endorsement.
There is still a possibility that the Conservative party might eschew Long in favor of Turner, as the New York Post urged in an editorial today. But if they decide to nominate Long, it seems that it will make it nearly impossible for a Republican or Conservative candidate to defeat Gillibrand, who could potentially be beatable. The state Republican party will decide tomorrow, and the Conservatives on Monday.
Fred Dicker, a columnist for the Post, argues that a Conservative endorsement of Long would be “a death knell for Bob Turner’s campaign.” He explains that not just Turner fans, but also all Empire State Republicans, and anyone interested in a “vibrant two-party system” would hope that there isn’t a rift between New York’s two conservative parties.
Update: Joe Carvin, Rye Town supervisor, has dropped out of the race.