Last week’s New York State Conservative Party Political Action Conference (CPPAC), held in Albany, the first since I became state party chairperson, was by all accounts successful. We had a large, enthusiastic crowd which was notably younger. I have no doubt the speakers and topics, which were wide-ranging and very current, were the reason.
On Day One, we had a tremendous list of speakers that included polling and media consultants to the president and vice president, leading New York policy gurus and a young rising star who is sure to be a force for many years to come.
On Day Two, we were happy to feature Mike Pregent as our lunch speaker. A veteran of three wars, and a company commander in Afghanistan, as well as a foreign policy, Middle East and terrorism expert, Mike identifies terrorists for the United States and advises decision-makers how to proceed.
To end the conference, we held a dinner with the 70 Conservative Party-endorsed members of the legislature. There, we released our 2020 legislative agenda and honored those legislators with a perfect 2019 conservative voting score with formal recognition.
Between the conclusion of the Monday session and lunch, I held a press conference with a number of legislators, including newly elected Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, on budget reform.
The party came out squarely in support of two proposals. One would limit the state budget to fiscal matters. This seems logical, but this is Albany, where logic goes to die.
In 2019, according to the Empire Foundation there were 80 non-fiscal items buried in the state budget. These included items like the elimination of bail for 90 percent of all crimes, the plastic bag ban which goes into effect on March 1, and commissions which have been given the authority to make state law.
This year, among the 20 flagged, non-fiscal items in the budget, you can find legalizing recreational marijuana, more commissions, a permanent ban on fracking and changes in the surrogacy laws.
The Conservative Party and most GOP legislators argue that these should be stand-alone bills that are debated and voted upon individually. It is unlikely the criminal justice reform bill would have become law in its present form if it had been debated on the floor of the legislature. Additionally, voters should be able to see how their representative voted on these controversial issues.
As the Democratic-orchestrated impeachment effort comes to an end with the president’s expected acquittal, I hope the Congress gets back to work on the many important issues affecting the nation.
A great deal of time and money was, in my opinion, wasted on what was a political effort that appears to have backfired, if polling is to be believed. In swing congressional districts, and there are many, the generic ballot in most moved a bit more to the GOP.
The president also seems to have a new resolve to further his programs and philosophy as he heads to Election Day and what, in my view, is looking more and more like a second term.
The president called me recently to ask for the Conservative Party endorsement. Although I have been with him and/or shaken his hand a number of times in the past 30 years, I have never had the opportunity to speak with him for what turned out to be quite a while.
I made it clear he did not need to call; he is immensely popular in the party and it was always our intent to endorse him. For his part, he felt that asking was the proper thing to do. I certainly respect the sentiment and was honored by his effort.
The result was that at our party leaders Executive Committee meeting held at the conference, the party unanimously endorsed the president for re-election. The formal (legal) endorsement in which we nominate a joint set of electors with the GOP will come, based on the political calendar, in September.