I took in some speeches this afternoon at the state Conservative Party conference in Colonie, and a trio of upstate Republican-Conservative county executives, Chris Collins of Erie, Maggie Brooks of Monroe and Joanie Mahoney of Onondaga, came across well. Collins was touted as a gubernatorial candidate until a couple of gaffes caused him to withdraw, and when I'd heard him on Fred Dicker's Talk 1300 radio show he put me off with constant references to the cult-like Six Sigma business management b.s. (at least I assume it's b.s., and have no interest in investigating the matter). But Collins gave an entertaining recital of his county's battle with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding alleged civil rights violations at the jail, and Brooks had some OK stuff about Albany's "sense of entitlement" and "toxic culture that favors patronage and partisanship" over ordinary people.
The star of the show, however, was Mahoney. Following Brooks, who had read a speech too fast, Mahoney spoke directly to the almost 300 people in the room, gathering confidence as she described her battles with the CSEA and other efforts to restrain spending. She is also relatively young (born in 1965), a married lawyer with four children and not afraid of a kiss, who was introduced as "from a pro-life family" and seems like a breath of fresh air in New York politics.
But when an actual potential statewide candidate, Long Island Republican Bruce Blakeman (who aims to take on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand) started speaking, he was so bad he drove me out of the room. One thundering cliche followed another, about "out of control spending" and how the Democrats say they'll just tax the rich but there aren't enough rich people to pay for their programs so they'll tax the middle class, too, and "We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem." Every stale line was presented as if we'd never heard it before, and he was promising to "focus laser-like" on something or other when I made it through the door.