Rick Lazio, Embattled GOP Candidate for Governor, Gets Unofficial Conservative Party Nod

Long Island Republican Rick Lazio, who faces primary challenges from the left and right for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, got a boost today when he won the endorsement of the Executive Committee of Mike Long's Conservative Party in Brooklyn. Since its founding, the Conservative Party's support has been crucial to Republicans seeking statewide office. Lazio has Long's personal support. The actual Conservative Convention takes place in June.

Lazio's Saturday is going better than his Friday did. He lost the support of State GOP Chair Ed Cox and the Republican and Conservative Chairs of Suffolk, his home county, when nominally Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and his $4 million warchest jumped the aisle to join the Republican race for Governor yesterday.

Under NYS law, Levy would need to get at least 51% of the Republican vote to get a Wilson Pakula certificate (pdf) to run as the candidate of a party he isn't a member of. Lazio was thought to have enough votes locked up to make that impossible, but with Levy's entry into the race he lost the endorsements of a number of Republican County chairs, including Suffolk, Bronx, Queens, and Onondaga, and his lead is less commanding than it used to be.

Carl Paladino, a Buffalo businessman who says he's willing to spend $10 million of his own money, also announced that he planned a run from the right of Lazio for the Conservative and Republican nominations. Paladino is thought to have the support of local Tea Party groups.

Former Congressman Lazio, who spent his years in the wilderness as a lobbyist for JPMorgan Chase, had just over $600k in campaign funds at last report after roughly a year of running. He's just announced the casting of his finance committee, which includes the heads of hedge funds, former Chairs of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, mortgage-backed security pioneer Lewis Ranieri, former Governors Pataki and Weld, banking deregulation stalwart Phil Gramm, and Rudy Giuliani.


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