Bob Lonsberry

Bob Lonsberry

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Democratic Blue Donkey and Republican Red Elephant in Spotlight on Top of American Flag

Photo: Moment RF

 Onondaga County Conservatives think they’re voting for a DA candidate tomorrow.


               They’re not.


               They’re voting on the legitimacy of their party.


They’re opening a window into their collective soul, to see if there’s one in there.


On its face, it’s a simple primary. Chuck Keller versus Christine Varga. He’s the candidate of the party bosses and she’s the challenger. Just one more of those blah-blah-blah races nobody pays any attention to.


But these times and this race are different.


And so is Chuck Keller’s Conservative Party candidacy – primarily because he is neither a Conservative nor a conservative. He is a stalking horse for Conservative Party leaders who hate incumbent Republican District Attorney William Fitzpatrick.


Fitzpatrick is a strong tea, and the Conservative bosses are weak men, but they are weak men who control a ballot line they are perfectly happy to use for their own vindictive, personal reasons. And so, instead of endorsing a candidate who stands for the common-sense, Constitution-based principles of the Conservative Party, they’ve backed a liberal Democrat who has spent his legal career serving criminals.


“We’ve got enough people in jail,” he told the local newspaper in a campaign profile, “we don’t need another.”


Interestingly, he neglected to express that view during his earlier, failed campaign for Supreme Court, or even mention that his background was as a defense lawyer. The next case Chuck Keller prosecutes will be his first. Something he also didn’t mention during his earlier, failed campaign for the County Legislature.


Which raises the question: What is it that perennial candidate Chuck Keller really wants to do? It kind of looks like mostly he wants a government paycheck and to get into the state retirement system before he gets too old.


               But let’s get back to the campaign at hand – being the Conservative Party candidate for district attorney.


His goal, he said, is “redemption” for criminals. “Redemption is getting off this wheel that the criminal justice system creates.”


Those are exactly the words of the liberal Democrats dismantling New York’s criminal justice system. They’ve defunded the police, they’ve castrated the law, and now they want to take over the district attorneys’ offices – as they’ve done in New York City, Los Angeles, and other crime-riddled hellholes. Alvin Bragg is the model for the Democrat district attorney: Quick to turn criminals loose, slow to actually prosecute anybody, and ever ready to jump into the political prosecution of a conservative.


Now, there’s nothing unusual about Chuck Keller’s positions on crime – if you’re a liberal Democrat. His party has pushed through several “criminal-justice reforms” that have directly benefited criminals and dramatically endangered society. Bail reform, Raise the Age, Less is More – turning people lose without bail, forbidding the arrest of most minors, releasing convicts to parole early, and making it hard to return them to prison for subsequently breaking the law – these are all signature pieces of legislation by Kathy Hochul and Andy Cuomo, and the whole army of New York Democrats who have endorsed Chuck Keller.


But their endorsement is consistent. It shows integrity of belief. The Democrats have picked a candidate who is a member of their party and a believer in their principles. He’s endorsed by Rachel May for a reason. The no-bail Democrats endorsed Chuck Keller because he is a no-bail Democrat.


And as a no-bail Democrat, he will be on the ballot in November as a clear, honest choice for Onondaga County voters. If the people like the Democrat approach to crime, they can vote for Democrat Chuck Keller on the Democrat line. That’s the truth in advertising.


But Chuck Keller on the Conservative Party line is a fraud. Why? Because the Conservative Party of New York has directly and specifically – and repeatedly – denounced every aspect of the very criminal-justice legislation Chuck Keller and the Democratic Party stand for. You cannot be both a Conservative and a Chuck Keller supporter, not without betraying the principles of either the candidate or the party.


If you are a Conservative and you support Chuck Keller – which is absolutely your right – you should be honest enough to enroll as a Democrat and stop pretending to be something you’re not.


The Conservative Party endorsement of Chuck Keller is a freebie for George Soros.


And any party which puts spite over principle is a party whose soul has gone bad. Or, more specifically, a party whose county leadership has gone bad. That leadership – those individuals – may choose to hate the incumbent district attorney, that is their right. But whoring out their party’s ballot line to advance their own vendetta is dishonorable and a betrayal of both the Conservative Party and the good people who belong to it in Onondaga County.


If you like Chuck Keller, vote for him on the Democratic Party line in November.


If you like competence and a commitment to justice and public safety, vote for Christine Varga in the Conservative Party primary tomorrow. She is an active and committed member of the Conservative Party, and she spent almost a quarter century prosecuting criminals and protecting society in the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office, getting justice for victims and safeguarding the rights of all.


But this vote isn’t just about a couple of candidates, it is about a party, and whether it lives up to its name and its values.


Which is something we’ll learn tomorrow.

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