Remembering Mike Long

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Ex-Conservative Party chairman was 82

By Jerry Kassar

(Jerry Kassar is the chairman of the New York State Conservative Party.)

Former New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long died July 24 at age 82. He had been ill but, frankly, in the manner in which Mike lived his life, you would not have known it until close to the end.

He was a wonderful friend, a truly great man who will be missed by most everyone who had an opportunity to know him. Many have contacted me, using superlatives such as “good,” “decent,” “loyal,” “finest,” “respectful” and “a man of his word,” among so many wonderful comments that I have lost count.

Mike and Eileen Long.

Some who may have seen things from a different point of view were quick to point out that he was respected and highly regarded by his opponents. A truly awesome compliment.

Mike and his wife Eileen raised nine children who gave them 24 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren so far. Their travels brought them from Cypress Hills, where Mike ran an ice cream parlor with his brother Tom, to Bay Ridge. Mike made all his own ice cream and many confectionery products. It was an effort to get in the door near Easter or Christmas. 

The Longs moved to Bay Ridge in 1982, while Mike was in the City Council, and settled in a big house on 76th Street. Tom and Mike operated Long’s Wine and Liquor Depot on Fifth Avenue and 79th Street until they sold it about 10 years ago. 

Mike Long, right, with state Sen. Marty Golden and attorney Andrew Sichenze.

Beginning in the mid-1970s the family had a summer cottage and then a home in Breezy Point. They moved to Breezy full-time about four years ago but frequently visited friends and acquaintances in Bay Ridge.

The Bay Ridge Community Council gave Mike its coveted Civic Award in 2016. He contributed a great deal to the civic, educational and business life of the community over the decades. He also received great praise for his civic, educational and business contributions in Cypress Hills, where he was the elected president of the community school board.

Mike is best known as the longtime chairman of the state Conservative Party. For all of my political career, we were linked through this involvement.

In 1977, just out of high school, I met Mike while he was managing a New York City mayoral campaign. He had been the party’s Brooklyn chairman since 1972. Through this meeting, I became involved in the party, eventually becoming his Brooklyn party executive director. In 1988, when he became state chairman, I became Brooklyn chairman and, four years later, one of his vice chairmen. When he retired in early 2019, I was fortunate enough to be elected state chairman.

As Brooklyn and state chairman, Mike had a code which centered around his principles. A Marine, Mike wore his solid belief in the greatness of America on his sleeve. He was enormously proud of being an elector for President Ronald Reagan in 1980. He was even chosen by the New York electors to be the secretary of the gathering in Albany.

Michael Long cheering on the parade.

Many local elected officials benefited from his sage political advice and friendship. In a business in which trust emanates from an eyedropper, Mike was someone all could trust.

He played key roles in electing Sen. Al D’Amato, Gov. George Pataki and Attorney General Dennis Vacco, but his influence could be felt in many congressional, state legislative and local races.

You always knew where you stood with Mike Long, and that, more often than not, was where you would stand with the party. His leadership was gladly followed because he led by listening and valued input.

Mike’s political legacy will be the many who learned from his example, those like myself who he mentored and the many who today or in the near future will create policy in the halls of government.

Knowing Mike for 45 years, I feel confident in saying that, of the countless awards and recognitions he received, he was most proud of two that are affiliated with the Catholic Church. The Knights of Columbus gave him their Pro Patria Award in 1985 and the church itself made him a Knight in the Order of St. Gregory the Great. This award is one of the highest the church presents to a layman anywhere in the world.

Rest in peace, my friend. Prayers for you Mike, Eileen and the family.

Opinions & Observations- Common Sense: Reagan revisionists just don’t get it

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Beware of revisionist books about Ronald Reagan that are appearing this holiday season. These works, which use little first-hand period source material, are the most recent efforts by the Left to discredit a popular and successful president. 

Like so many attempts to revisit history, these works attempt to psychoanalyze Reagan and then apply what the author deduced to current events.

Contemporaries both friend and foe wrote hundreds of books on the Reagan presidency in the decade following his retirement in 1989.  Even his enemies gave him high marks for leadership.  Most have complimented his ability to unite the American people and restore America’s standing in the world. In fact, if not for Reagan, the Cold War could not have been won by George H.W. Bush. All this occurred without a war and really only one serious military action in Grenada during his eight years in office.

As far as the economy is concerned, Reagan himself set the standard when he asked in 1980, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Vice President Bush ran for president in 1988 while being held to the Reagan standard. I think his solid victory reflected how most Americans felt about the Reagan years.

I am not big on revisionism unless new information becomes available. Trying to look at something from years ago through a prism focused on today can often distort history by misinterpreting what actually occurred.


In Onondaga, near Syracuse, the counting of the paper ballots from Election Day was stopped last week because six employees out of an office of 30 employees tested positive for COVID-19. These BOE employees came into contact with dozens of campaign volunteers, lawyers and observers for the candidates whose ballots were being opened. Fortunately, as far as I know, the outbreak was contained.  A judge ordered that no further ballot counting in Onondaga would take place until after Thanksgiving. 

Many have expressed great annoyance with how long it takes to get final numbers from the various Boards of Elections. I share that annoyance, but also know this year in particular is not the year to rush the process. Board of Elections employees at all levels, even after many safety measures were put in place, were at a higher risk than most New Yorkers of being exposed and of exposing others. 

Final certified counts on New York City elections will be available by the end of the month – a bit less than a month after the election. Yes, it’s too long and it’s not all due to COVID. Still, waiting a little longer is a small price to pay to protect the safety of the BOE employees and the many people who need to attend the opening of the paper ballots.


Earlier this year, I gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo high marks for communicating each day the status of COVID and the state’s response. I did not give him high marks for the response itself, which is bared out in the numbers of cases and deaths.

As such, I think the Emmy he is being awarded for his communications skills is insulting to all New Yorkers, but in particular to those who have lost loved ones.

I suppose I should not have expected better from those who do little more than play at being someone other than themselves.


Thanksgiving has always been a special day in which we look back on the past months and take a few hours with family and friends to thank the Lord.  Most years, our thanks are general in nature, with maybe an event such as a marriage or birth being of specific relevance. 

That would not be the case this year. All that was ordinary is not anymore. 

As New Yorkers, simply enjoying this Thanksgiving in good health might be all the blessing we need. For those who are suffering from ailments, being with loved ones is something to give thanks for.

This has been a year for the ages. There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. Give thanks. Happy Thanksgiving!

State Chairman Gerard Kassar congratulates Robert G. Ortt on his election to NYS Senate Minority Leader

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“Congratulations to Senator Robert G. Ortt on his election as the new Republican leader of the NYS Senate by his fellow colleagues today. Rest assured Senator, the Conservative Party of New York State, will be working hard throughout this election season to change your title to Majority Leader of the NYS Senate. 

Your constituents have benefited from your strong voice. Now all New Yorkers will gain from your leadership no doubt acquired from your honored military service. I am confident your private sector and governmental experience will be welcomed by all New Yorkers as we deal with a state plagued with a multitude of problems. 

Senator Rob Ortt has been consistent in scoring well in our ratings. His 2019 rating was 100%, along with Sen. Jordan and Sen. O’Mara, as well as being the highest rated Senator in 2018 with an 85% rating. 

I look forward to working together on the issues that affect all New Yorkers now and in the coming years.”

Op-ed: Common Sense- Conservatives take center stage

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I spent some time last week at the national Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in National Harbor just outside of Washington, D.C.

The conference gets bigger and bigger each year. There had to be well over 10,000 people attending this year’s event. In fact, every hotel room in National Harbor was taken, let alone the many who could simply drive in for the day from the region, and no wonder, considering the line-up included at various times the president, vice president, secretary of state, several members of the Trump family, numerous senior government officials including the national security advisor, media personalities and conservative commentators, well-known foreign leaders like Nigel Farage, and those representing important positions on social issues such as right-to-life, law enforcement and Second Amendment rights, to name a few.

Candice Owens’ presentation was so well-received that the packed ballroom gave her numerous standing ovations.

In addition to the speakers who presented in the main ballroom that included bleachers to accommodate over 4,000 guests, there were dozens of breakout sessions in smaller rooms covering more narrow topics. 

Media was in abundance. Outside the main ballroom were literally dozens of TV and radio outlets doing live interviews. I was fortunate to be given an opportunity to do a few. Inside the ballroom, there was a TV platform and a press section that was set up for over 200 outlets.

The CPAC was a creation in 1974 of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and, at that time, the newly-founded American Conservative Union (ACU). As such, it attracted many college students and young professionals interested in conservative economic and social philosophy.

Back then, the conferences were held at the Shoreham Americana Hotel off Rock Creek Park in D.C. In the first few years, attendance barely reached 300. Then, in 1979, with Ronald Reagan’s second attempt at winning the Republican nomination and his attendance once again as a speaker, the event blossomed.

President Reagan — as a conservative leader, candidate for president, president and then former president — spoke at 14 CPACs. President Trump as a candidate and now as president has spoken at four so far. He is well received, with the event at many points seeming more like a Trump/Pence re-election rally.

In those years, I was active with Young Americans for Freedom, eventually being elected to the national board in 1981, so CPAC was part of my annual routine. In some ways, my attendance these days is a bit like a class reunion, with me running into people I have known literally for decades. 

One thing that has not changed is the magnetism CPAC provides to young people, notably college students. I am told that a majority of the crowd is under 25 years of age. It certainly looks that way as you move through crowded corridors into a full ballroom or breakout session.

Several years back, as part of the American Conservative Union’s interest in focusing on young rising stars in the national conservative movement, the group asked Nicole Malliotakis to take the center stage, addressing thousands in the room and many others who watched on CSPAN.

ACU saw Nicole’s potential way back when she was in her second term in the legislature, believing then that she would one day be seeking higher office.

If you are interested in the philosophy and/or hands-on application of conservativism in a political environment, I recommend that you follow the American Conservative Union and the Young America’s Foundation for CPAC updates. I suspect attending next year’s event, always held in late February or early March, will be worth your time.

Op-ed:Common Sense- Winner of the week

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Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican-Conservative candidate for Congress in the 11th Congressional District, which covers Southwest Brooklyn including Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights as well as all of Staten Island, received a strong statement of support from President Donald Trump last week.

The president’s message was so strong that City & State, a publication that has significant readership in the political and governmental world, declared her a “winner of the week.”

The president tweeted, “Nicole Malliotakis is running for Congress in NY, I know her well, we need her to defeat Max Rose, who voted for impeachment! Nicole is Strong on Crime & Borders, #2A, Cutting Taxes, & she Loves our Military & Vets. Nicole has my Complete & Total Endorsement.”

This certainly comes as no surprise to me since I was aware of the president’s support for some time. Some however needed to see a tweet from the president, which has become the mechanism for him to notify his 72 million Twitter followers.

So there you have it. Unequivocal support for Nicole Malliotakis and her campaign for Congress from President Donald Trump.


Speaking of endorsements, Assembly candidate Michael Tannousis (64th A.D., parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island) received the overwhelming endorsement of the Brooklyn GOP in his race to succeed Nicole Malliotakis in the Assembly. Michael already had the endorsement of the Staten Island GOP as well as the Conservative Party in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Michael also has Nicole’s endorsement as well as the endorsement of many Staten Island elected officials.


And speaking of more endorsements, the Bay Ridge Democrats and Councilman Justin Brannan find themselves in the odd place of endorsing Bernie Sanders in a race where many other local Democratic elected and party officials have or plan to endorse Mike Bloomberg.

Since their founding, the Bay Ridge Democrats have been on the progressive left of the Democratic Party.  In fact, they were one of the first political organizations to endorse Bill de Blasio for mayor. They used to brag about it but these days hardly mention their early support.

Sanders was the logical choice for this borderline socialist organization. I wonder how this endorsement will work out.


I hear that the push to create a Business Improvement District (BID) on Third Avenue is moving slowly.  I am not sure why.

BIDs provide enormous advantages for active business strips, of which Third Avenue is certainly one.  On the top of the list are tax benefits when making purchases for promotional advertising and events. Beautification efforts receive far more favorable treatment by the city when they come through a BID due to an automatic conclusion that the BID is speaking for the avenue’s tenants. Additionally, there are many BIDs in the city that act in unison through an association to fight for merchants and tenants at City Hall and Albany.

The downside is the membership fee, which in our community is in the $800 annual range per business.

In my opinion, the cost vs. benefit clearly weighs in favor of the benefit. I think Third Avenue merchants would do well to create one.

Common Sense – Op-ed: Winners and losers

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The president was acquitted. No surprise there. The pro-impeachment forces could not even muster a simple majority, let alone the constitutionally-required two-thirds vote.

There were costs: political, financial and governmental. Tens of millions of dollars were arguably wasted on the process that led to the acquittal. Time was also wasted. The president and, for that matter, many members of Congress, are in agreement that there is much work to be done on issues ranging from border security to health care.

Politically, the fallout will be enormous for both parties. The Republicans, in addition to the obvious winner, President Trump, have new superstars like New York Congressmembers Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin.

The Democrats have a mix of winners and losers. They had a member flip to the GOP over the proceedings, which in any playbook is a loss. The president’s popularity, based on several polls, has increased and the generic Congressional ballot ticked a bit more Republican. 

In my opinion, Speaker Pelosi’s performance during the State of the Union was not helpful to the Democratic cause. Often, the difference in elections hovers around those that are on the fence. Ripping up the official copy of the State of the Union address presented to her by the president in all likelihood was not viewed favorably by those occupying the middle ground. 


As I write this column on Sunday morning, news has just broken that an individual walked into the 41st Precinct in the Bronx, opening fire and wounding a police officer. This is the same police precinct that just a few hours earlier had been the scene of an attempted assassination of an officer, who escaped death by the grace of God. 

When the police become the targets, no one in our city is safe. A general anti-police attitude fueled by the mayor and echoed by progressive Democratic political leadership, both at City Hall and in Albany, has been a noticeable contributing factor.

Laws that created “Get Out Of Jail Free Cards” for bank robbers and hit-and-run perpetrators, among others, reconfigured the criminal justice system against the victim and in favor of the accused. 

Anarchistic-style demonstrations that call for fewer police to protect us, and cause criminally negligent property damage and disruptions to ordinary New Yorkers just going about their daily business only add to the general view that lawlessness has become a real concern in the city.

Those of us who cry out against this retreat from an almost 30-year period of relative stability are told we are fear-mongers. I say we have much to fear in the new paradigm the progressive Democrats have given us.  

I suggest to my readers that we are the silent majority. If we intend to remain in our homes, community and city, we cannot remain silent any longer. Action is needed.

We can no longer tolerate elected officials doubling down on cashless bail. We cannot allow those holding policymaking positions in city government to tell us we are safe, when we know we are not as safe as we were just four years ago. 

All must speak out and attend meetings like those held by their local police precinct community council, their local community board or civic associations. Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights have two strong groups — the Bay Ridge Community Council and Dyker Heights Civic Association. Use these forums to amplify your concerns.

Common Sense – Op-ed: Annual conservative meetup

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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.

Common Sense – Op-ed: No to non-citizens voting

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The progressive Democrats in the City Council never fail to show the world how little common sense they can muster. Just last week Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez introduced legislation that would allow non-citizens to vote in New York City municipal elections.

That means non-citizens could vote for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough presidents and city councilmembers. He was able to garner 22 equally common sense-lacking co-sponsors.

The mayor has not been warm to this idea in the past and even the City Council speaker has raised questions. In fact, there are a number of Democratic councilmembers, including Conservative Party-endorsed Kalman Yeger of Brooklyn and Bob Holden of Queens, who have expressed opposition, in addition to the small but visible contingent of GOP/Conservative members.

The five Conservative Party county organizations in the city, through their chairpeople, together with the state party, have issued a joint statement opposing the legislation. 

Devaluing the vote of citizens and a belief that this is no more than a back-door way of electing more progressives were two of the points stressed by the Conservative Party leaders.

Councilmember Yeger, always on point, said, “It’s not progressive to tell legal residents of the United States that citizenship has no value.”

Councilmember Holden stated, “I’m against any non-citizen voting. That’s our basic right that we’ve earned as citizens.”

You need 26 votes and a signature on a delivered bill from the mayor before something as far left as this proposal can become law.  Rodriguez is still a few supporters short. Readers should call their local councilmembers to express their thoughts.


The governor released his 2020/2021 budget last week. The hill he needs to climb before he has a spending document in place is overcoming what he is suggesting will be a $10 billion dollar deficit — up for this upcoming fiscal year from $6.1 billion. 

To accomplish this goal, he is proposing a number of cuts that lack the detail that will be necessary before the legislature is likely to sign off.  He is also proposing what he calls several hundred million dollars’ worth of revenue enhancements (new taxes, fees and the like) as well as one-shots, which just kick the problem down the road.

Once again, the governor is using the budget to push a number of non- budgetary items such as the legalization of recreational marijuana, commissions that effectively will be doing the job of the legislature and even revisions in the birth surrogacy laws. Last year, he used the budget to give us a plastic bag ban and the much-maligned criminal justice reforms.

Cuomo has governed now for nine years. He owns the budget, our state’s economy and what comes next, at least for now.

Common Sense – Is he bored?

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Last week, Gov. Cuomo and his Budget Director Robert Mujica, together with the governor’s daughter Michaela, traveled to Puerto Rico to look over the recent earthquake damage.  Photos of them on a helicopter inspection looked more like a group on a sightseeing trip than a serious effort to be helpful.

Of course, it is totally appropriate for New York State to offer assistance to Puerto Rico which has had a year and a half of repeated devastation. New York, both through private donations and government assistance, has sent billions.

We have also brought into the commonwealth significant manpower in the form of National Guard specialized units as well as other emergency services. The private sector, especially utilities, has done the same.

My issue is with the governor and budget director joining the trip, with a budget announcement due in just a few days.  During Cuomo’s first term, he literally never left the state. He defended his stay-at-home policy by stating he had much work to do. It was hard to argue with him.

In recent years, he has seemed far less interested in a New York State government focus. He gets a clear thrill out of personally participating in emergencies and/or weather disasters, regardless of whether they are in New York or abroad. Although it is his right, it causes me to wonder about his continued interest in governing our state. He appears bored.

I make no pretense of being nonpartisan. Regardless, I would think that with a $6.1 billion budget deficit, mass public concern over criminal justice issues and a population fleeing the state in record numbers, a return to the first-term Cuomo who stayed behind to deal with matters would have made a lot of sense.


The Democratic leadership in the State Assembly and many Democratic members of the State Senate are digging in their heels in opposition to any effort to repeal or change last year’s criminal justice reforms which essentially eliminated bail for 90 percent of those arrested and changed discovery rules to give those arrested unprecedented access to the private information of victims.

In fact, last week, Assemblymember Charles Barron, a former Black Panther, brought a group of self-identified Black Panthers to Albany to argue that cashless bail should be expanded. They were not the only ones that demonstrated for expansion. Imagine. There are organized groups arguing that New York did not go far enough.

You do not need to read the newspapers, listen to the radio or watch TV to know that this law went way too far and needs to be repealed. Then, maybe the legislature can start over again and come up with something that might work. To get started, it needs to be repealed now.


President Trump had two wins last week that should help our economy and, as an extension, many Americans. The Senate gave final passage to the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement. The successor of the not-so-good NAFTA agreement should create a fairer balance of trade between the U.S. and two of its biggest trading partners, Mexico and Canada.

Additionally, the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China signed the first phase of an immensely important trade agreement that substantially shifted a former Chinese trade advantage to the middle where it should have been in the first place. The agreement still has pieces to be negotiated, but this first phase sets the outline and allows for a greater level of confidence that there is little risk of punitive tariffs.

Although Wall Street is not Main Street, it is a decent indicator of how well our nation is doing financially. The Dow Jones hit an all-time high and other market indicators are doing equally well.