Its been many years since I took the position that the ability of minor parties to cross endorse major party candidates would wind up compromising the two party system.
And I took that position over the years
Knowing full well that Republican candidates whom I supported needed first the support of the Conservative Party and then the support of both the Conservative and Independence parties to win elections as the registration edge which the Democrats had continued to increase, it was and is my view that in order for the Republican Party to remain viable it could not give up its right to select its own candidates based on its own criteria, rather than the whim or ideology of any minor party. Moreover the fact that the leaders of those parties had the ability to deliver far more votes by cross endorsing the major parties than were registered to vote in the minor party allowed leverage that was dangerous in that it could result in abuses of power; trading endorsements for contributions all of which would emasculate the party that was most dependent on cobbling together a coalition of minor parties in order to compete with the party that had a registration edge.
This year we have seen the culmination of allowing “fusion” politics in New York which by the way is one of only seven states that allow this. The Independence Party chairman had been billed as the “Kingmaker” because assuming that the Conservative Party backed the Republican candidate, the Independence party spelled the difference between possible victory and certain defeat. If it supported the Republican candidate there was a chance to win, if not, there was no chance.
This year however the Conservative party decided that it too could play the game, and they ended up playing the game better than Giulio Cavallo could ever play it. By endorsing Andy Spano they made the Independence nomination irrelevant. The Conservate Party has effectively marginalized Cavallo. Astorino got screwed in the process which is really a shame, but having the Independence line is a guarantee of absolutely nothing now. Some may criticize those who “orchestrated” the “Conservative gambit.” But in reality you can’t blame those who play the game by the rules, because the rules create the problem. So people can rail against Nick Spano and Gail Burns all they want, but the problem started well before this year. It started when Republicans failed to recognize that dependency on other political parties was a dead end, one that would lead to emasculation and control by the smaller party; the proverbial tail wagging the dog syndrome.Now the tail is the dog, And unless and until the state legislature changes the rules, the two party system will be totally compromised in New York.
Michael Edelman is a respected Republican political strategist and media commentator.