At the end of January, New York’s Conservative Party, the most influential of the minor parties that complicate the state’s politics, celebrated its 50th anniversary at a Holiday Inn near the Albany airport, a vast and dingy venue that reminded me of athlete housing left over from the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Politicians like former Gov. George Pataki, who owed his election to the Conservatives, came to pay homage to the party for its record of steering the state’s politics to the right.
But one calamity darkened the mood of nostalgia and self-congratulation: the passage last summer of a law legalizing marriage equality. For many New Yorkers, the June 24 marriage vote was a rare moment of goosebump drama from a capital better known for tedious dysfunction. For the Conservatives, and in particular for Mike Long, the ex-marine who has been the party’s chairman for nearly half of its history, the vote was a triple humiliation.