Two state assemblymen, Bill Nojay of the Rochester area and Kieran Lalor of the Poughkeepsie area, were named the most conservative lawmakers in the state by the Conservative Party.
They received a 100 percent score from the small but powerful third party, namely for their opposition of the state’s gun-control law in January. They voted in line with the party’s position on all 24 bills scored by the party during the legislative session that ended in June.
Other Republicans in the Assembly and Senate also received high marks: Assemblymen Christopher Friend, R-Big Flats, Chemung County, and Steve Katz, R-Yorktown, Westchester County, received scores of 96 percent in the report released this week.
Lawmakers who voted against the SAFE Act, the gun law championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, received double points in the Conservative Party’s grading system. The party also opposed bills that would strengthen abortion rights and expand gambling in New York.
“We believe that it is necessary to keep the public informed of these key votes and let the taxpayers be aware of how elected officials spend our money,” said Mike Long, the state’s Conservative Party chairman, in a statement.
In the Senate, GOP Sens. John DeFranciso and James Seward, both of central New York, scored the highest with 72 percent ratings. Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, who for two years in a row had received the party’s top ranking, had a score of 68.
The Conservative Party only has 154,000 enrolled voters, but it has influence in elections. The party is listed third on the ballot, and no Republican running for statewide office has won without the Conservative Party’s nod since 1974.
Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mount Vernon, had among the lowest scores in the Senate: a 32 percent rating. Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County, received an 8 percent rating – which was also given to many of his Democratic colleagues in the chamber, including Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan.
Nojay said he doesn’t vote to appease any special interest.
“I just vote the way I think I should vote on the issues for my district,” Nojay said. “I don’t pay attention to rankings by any particular group.”
Nojay and Lalor are first-term assemblymen. Nojay didn’t win the Conservative Party’s endorsement in 2012, and Lalor only got the line that year after he won a primary as a write-in candidate.
“Voters knew the difference and knew what mattered. That proves this ultimately is about the voters, not the party’s establishment,” Lalor said in a statement.