Conservative Party Chair: “Steve Saland did this to himself”

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Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long on Wednesday dismissed the idea that his candidate was to blame for Sen. Stephen Saland’s potential downfall, instead pointing to votes Saland took that Long says alienated his political base.

Saland, a Poughkeepsie Republican, faced a challenge from Conservative candidate Neil Di Carlo, who nearly defeated the incumbent in a September primary. On Tuesday, Di Carlo grabbed more than 16,000 votes as Saland trailed Democrat Terry Gipson by 1,600 votes with paper ballots still left to count.

Long said Saland has himself to blame.

“It wasn’t Neil Di Carlo that did this to Steve Saland,” Long told Gannett’s Albany Bureau Wednesday. “It was Steve Saland that did this to himself.”

Saland was one of four Republican senators to vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage last year, critical support that allowed the measure to pass the GOP-held Senate. Long and the Conservative Party made clear that they wouldn’t support anyone who voted in favor of the bill, and followed through on the threat.

Two of those Republicans — retiring Sen. James Alesi and Sen. Roy McDonald, who was defeated in a primary — will not be returning to the chamber in 2013, while Saland’s situation appears tenuous.

On Wednesday, Long said it was more than Saland’s vote on same-sex marriage that angered the Conservatives, citing a December legislative package that increased taxes on the wealthy over rates that were due to kick in in 2012.

“Steve Saland took for granted his base vote,” Long said. “There is a strong conservative Republican voice and base in his Senate district that basically threw their hands up and felt betrayed by him.”

Saland, meanwhile, has stuck by his votes and has repeatedly said he has no regrets. He has not conceded the race, and expressed optimism last night that he may be able to eke out a victory after absentee and affidavit ballots are counted.

Long said his relationship with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and the Republican conference remains “good,” despite Democrats picking up Alesi’s seat and potentially Saland’s.

“I want them to keep control but I was not going to throw the principles of the party out the window for the purpose of keeping control,” Long said. “That’s the lesson that legislators have to understand. They have to understand that when they vote — many times, not all the times — votes have consequences.”

(AP file photo)

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  1. This conservative, who would have voted for Saland, except for his OBVIOUS political deal making in regard to same-sex marriage (actually, impossible), voted for Di Carlo, knowing it would likely make Saland lose. I’m glad it did, because principle is something totally missing in American politics, with Saland being the case in point.

  2. Every idiot conservative that voted against Saland is now to blame for the Democrats taking back State Senate, and there is now a clear path for socialism in NYS. Blame the Conservative Party buffoons for this. The Conservative Party is a bunch of zealots that directly handed over the state to the left-wing Democrats. Saland took thousands of votes and voted the conservative way on thousands of issues and because of only one vote the Conservative Party put a knife in his back and handed every branch of government over to the socialists in the NY Democrat Party. Please go away Conservative Party – Please go away Mike Long – you have now put the final nail in New York State’s coffin – pack your bags folks and move away.

  3. Thanks Bob Smith – wait till you see the result of your idiotic vote. The Republicans in Senate were blocking a bunch of radical laws being pushed by Dems and now they will all pass. Massive giveaways to unions, free abortion of demand, higher taxes on people and businesses, voting for rights for illegal aliens, and many more. Thanks Bob Smith, it will be your fault.

  4. Saland was on the road to socialism anyway. This was just the start. He would have been no help. Sayonara.