You hear a guy like Assemblyman Patrick Manning talk and you understand the fault line running under the New York State Republican Party.
But you also wonder if the conservative passion of Manning (or John Faso or Randy Daniels – the other Republican Conservatives who want to be governor) will really work in the Empire State.
Recent history has shown that in the nation, a conservative underpinning has helped the Republican Party ascend. A piece on Salon.com gets at this. In the article about how President Bush might be alienating conservatives, Richard Viguerie – a conservative guru, talks about how conservative ideals became infused in the GOP ranks.
Viguerie, who helped get Ronald Reagan elected, said that every so often a Republican moderates fall foretold a conservative rise.
"If Ford had been elected in ’76, no way Ronald Reagan would have been elected president in 1980," Viguerie told Salon. "And for sure, if [George H.W.] Bush had been elected in ’92, no way you would have a Republican Congress in 1994."
Patrick Manning, the conservative from the Hudson Valley (and as tall as an NBA center), believes the same situation is playing out in New York.
He said that the New York Republicans have, for more than a decade now, failed to appeal to the base. Manning defines that base as the taxpayer advocates, the sportsman… and, what he calls, the "leave us alone coalition" or the people who want to get on with living day to day with the state government off their backs.
"Those people don’t get out of their La-Z-Boys’ for the Republican Party anymore," said Manning during an interview that will be aired on WXXI’s Need to Know this Friday (February 17).
And if conservatives nationally are getting soft on Bush – then just listen to Manning on Republican Gov. George Pataki.
Manning talked about how the GOP can’t put up someone who is "80 percent the Democratic Party." When he was then asked who he was talking about… Manning said some Republican legislative leaders and … the executive.
"I think that in a post Pataki era… we don’t need more of that," Manning said. And as the New York State Conservative Party to hear these candidates, you can bet that the former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, the favorite of GOP State Chairman Steve Minarik, will be hammered for being "more of that."
For Manning, this year represents what he called a "brief shining moment in time" for the Republican Party to embrace its base – to claim a vision once again. Someone who will slash at taxes, cut state government spending and stop raising New York’s debt.
No way would Manning (or Faso or Daniels for that matter) ever say that they look at 2006 as the year the conservatives reclaimed the Republican Party – but lost the general election.
But you have to wonder if they aren’t thinking about it as a longer-term reclamation project.
And Republicans like Manning will have to remind themselves of this – the last two Republican governors to be elected in New York will hardly be confused with Ronald Reagan.