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Conservative Party's Influence, Links to Ethingtons Questioned

Written By Editor on 11/1/13 | 11/1/13

The Conservative Party of Schoharie County is a legitimate competitor in our right-leaning County. The party itself controls over 1,000 registered voters-- counting over 10% of those that voted in the last County-wide race.

The Conservative Party does not simply tag along with the Republican Party. It has struck out on its own, regularly endorsing Democrats and since 2007 running its own candidates. There have been several large cases as of late, and the party's role in this year's races is certainly mixing up the established order.

Take the recent history, for example:

2007- The first large-scale effort of the Conservative Party to upend local politics. Former Middleburgh Mayor Gary Hayes lost his bid for the Republican nomination for County Clerk 70-30% against Indica Jaycox. Mr. Hayes was then backed by the Conservative Party. In the race against Mrs. Jaycox and Democratic former Middleburgh Supervisor Richard Shultes, the vote was split 60% Republican, 25% Democratic, and 15% Conservative.

2009- The Conservative Party proved to be the kingmaker in that year's races, giving a needed boost to both Cobleskill Supervisor candidate Thomas Murray and Sheriff Candidate Anthony Desmond. Both were also endorsed by the Democratic Party and ran on their lines-- but it was the Conservative Paty line that put them both over the top. In the race where Murray won by 9 votes and Desmond less than 50, the fusion ticket votes from the Conservative line handed them the victories.

2011- Coming off of the success of the 2009 votes, the Conservative Party backed Mr. Hayes again. This time Mr. Hayes ran on both the Conservative and Democratic tickets-- this time winning 36% to Mrs. Jaycox's 64%.

The largest push seems to be this year. Sheriff Desmond left his caucus with the Democrats and lost not only their nomination but also the Conservatives'. Meanwhile, Jefferson Supervisor Daniel Singletary lost the Republican nomination to Sean Jordan. The Conservative Party then endorsed Mr. Singletary and placed him on their line. In Wright, a registered-Conservative, Amber Bleau successfully gained the nomination for Supervisor. In Esperance, Mayor Steve Miller picked up the Conservative and Democratic lines for Supervisor. Tom Murray still holds the Conservative nod in Cobleskill. Martin Shrederis of Schoharie received both the Republican and Conservative Parties' backing.

The largest case, of course, is that of County Sheriff. Deputy Todd Ethington attempted to receive both the Republican and Conservative Parties' support. Ethington came in a distant third in June's Republican caucus behind newly-minted again-Republican Desmond and Deputy Duane Tillapaugh. The support of Conservative Party Chair William Hanson was vital for Ethington to receive the nomination.

The situation is significantly more complicated when taking all of the nominees into consideration. The Party has thrown it weight behind Todd Ethington. Cassandra Ethington, as Personnel Director, signed off on the hiring of Mr. Hanson and Mr. Hayes for different jobs. Beyond this, most of the nominees that the Conservatives have put up this year are explicit supporters of either Todd Ethington for Sheriff or have been of Cassandra Ethington's tenure as Personnel Director.

The Conservative Party already has a large influence on this year's election and will likely have at least some of its nominees win next week. Its future largely rides on whether these nominees can win a majority of the weighted votes on the County Board.
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