STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Island Conservatives made nominations for the fall state Legislature elections last night, but left their convention without endorsing a candidate to oppose Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore).
Meeting at the Road House restaurant in Sunnyside, members of the party county committee endorsed three incumbent lawmakers for re-election: Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island), state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn).
In other races, the Conservatives cross-endorsed a pair of first-time Republican candidates: Joseph Borelli, who is running for the South Shore Assembly seat being vacated by GOP Assemblyman Lou Tobacco, and attorney Lisa Grey, who is running against state Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn).
In the race for the North Shore Assembly seat, the party declined to endorse Titone or his GOP rival, retired NYPD captain Paul Saryian.
“We don’t feel there is a vibrant candidate out there for that line right now, and we just don’t want to stand behind someone that we feel is not up to our expectations,” said party chairman Harold Wagner, overseeing his first convention since taking over the party reins from Carmine Ragucci.
After the meeting, Wagner said the executive committee, “didn’t feel comfortable” after their interview with Saryian.
“The questions and the answers just weren’t what we were looking for in a candidate,” he said.
Cusick is running against Republican Sam Pirozzolo, president of the Community Education Council.
Borough President James Molinaro, a longtime Cusick supporter, said the party couldn’t go wrong in backing Cusick. The assemblyman has run with Conservative support in all his races.
“He’s done a good job looking out for Staten Island in Albany, [Speaker Sheldon Silver] listens to him and he delivers for Staten Island,” said Molinaro. “I am a big fan of his.”
“We want the best person that will represent the Conservative Party as well as the community,” said Wagner. “That’s what we care about.”
Borelli said the party has to fight against liberal politicians, including President Barack Obama, whom he called “an ultra liberal in the White House.” Borelli is running against Democratic attorney Anthony Mascolo.
“I think that together we can make sure Staten Island stands for conservative values,” Borelli said.
Ms. Grey told party members, “I will do everything in my power to justify your faith in me. No candidate will work harder to be elected or will fight harder to bring conservative principles to a district that is so sorely in need of change.”
Lanza is opposed by courts mediator Gary Carsel, while Ms. Malliotakis faces Democrat John Mancuso.
The incumbents could not attend the convention because they were in Albany on legislative business.