Michael Long, the former leader of New York’s Conservative Party who fought to represent the state’s embattled conservatives against Democrats and liberal Republicans alike, has died. He was 82.
The Brooklyn native died of kidney failure at his home in Queens, the New York Times reported.
NY Conservative Party leader Michael Long dies
A champion of traditional values — he withheld the Conservative Party’s support from Republicans who went along with legalizing gay marriage in 2010 — Long once said that the Conservative Party, founded in protest of New York’s liberal Rockefeller Republicans, was a “philosophical movement” and not a political party.
He helped make the Conservative Party a player in the politics of deep blue New York regardless.
Long found the greatest electoral success of his career in 1994 with the election of Governor George Pataki, a Republican.
Pataki picked up 300,000 votes from the Conservative line to unseat incumbent Mario Cuomo, the father of Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo. Pataki went on to serve three terms, and no Republican governor has held office in New York since.
“In my first race for governor, the Conservative line was the difference between winning and losing and without Mike Long, I would have never had that line. I am forever grateful for his friendship, his leadership and most of all his strength and courage. He will be missed,” Pataki said.
Conservative champion honored
Long served in the Marines from 1959 to 1961. He entered the political world as a volunteer for Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign and went on to work his way up in the Conservative Party in Brooklyn, eventually rising to state chairman in 1988. He held the position until 2019.
During Long’s time with the Conservatives, the party also successfully elected James Buckley, the brother of conservative intellectual William F. Buckley Jr., to the U.S. Senate on the Conservative line alone, as well as Al D’Amato, the last Republican U.S. senator from New York.
Former President Donald Trump, a Queens native, honored Long as a “true Patriot and powerful Voice for Faith, Family, and Freedom.”
Long also served as an at-large member on the New York City council from 1981 to 1983. He is survived by his wife Eileen, nine children, 24 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
“Not only were his nine children fortunate to have him as a father, there were countless other people whose lives he positively impacted,” Long’s son, Chris Long, said.