A flurry of phone calls was placed over the weekend in hopes of pushing former Rep. Joe DioGuardi off the Conservative line to make way for the winner of the primary between the two Republicans placed on the ballot at the convention last week in the race against Democratic US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long confirmed DioGuardi, who landed Row D by receiving close to 70 percent of the weighted vote at his party’s convention two weeks ago, has decided to forge ahead with his plan to petition his way into the GOP primary and has also committed to run on the Conservative line in November regardless of whether he makes it onto Row B.
Long said he spoke to DioGuardi over the weekend and also fielded calls from unnamed GOP leaders hopeful about forging some kind deal that would enable the Conservatives and Republicans to mend their rift.
“There have been numerous conversations; numerous people made numerous phone calls, OK?” Long told me. “But, you know, Joe DioGuardi won with almost 70 percent at the Conservative convention, and this was his call.”
“I indicated to Joe that he clearly captured the endorsement of the party, and he said he was going to continue to move forward, and that’s fine.”
“I made it clear to anybody who called me that I was not taking any initiative to try to get him off the line…Numerous people from the Republican Party called me, and I’m sure numerous people called (DioGuardi), too.”
At the GOP convention gala dinner last week, Long and state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox had a conversation during which they began to mend the fences that were broken during the battle over the gubernatorial race, in which Long successfully gambled on Rick Lazio over Cox’s pick, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.
If DioGuardi is successful in petitioning his way onto the GOP ballot (and he can’t be stopped from doing so, since he’s an enrolled party member), he’ll set up a three-way primary between the two candidates who got onto the ballot at the convention: Designee Bruce Blakeman and David Malpass.
Blakeman went after Malpass fairly hard on “Capital Tonight” last week. (A clip from that is coming soon; we’re a bit backlogged due to the conventions), but didn’t say much about Gillibrand.
Malpass slammed Gillibrand during his acceptance speech at the convention and plans to hit her again today in a noon conference call for accepting the Working Families Party line yesterday.