Michael Torres, the new chairman of the Suffolk County Conservative Party, is no stranger to political power brokering and, in fact, is not so new at all.
The party makes up 10% of all registered Conservatives across New York State. Torres took over the reins of the party after being unanimously elected in September 2020, and since, the party cemented itself as influential and relevant in local, state and federal elections alike.
Torres, 48, previously served as the chairman of the Islip Town Conservative Party. He has also served in various capacities with the county party, including sitting on the executive board of the Conservative Party for several terms and serving as the county’s party secretary beneath former chairman Frank Tinari.
His leadership, which was acknowledged by a flood of support when he announced his intention to lead the county-wide party, brought with it the endorsement of powerful Conservative voice Frank Tinari, the current-Huntington Conservative Party chair and vice chair of the Conservative Party of New York State.
“I am confident that Mike Torres is going to do an excellent job in increasing the role of the Suffolk County Conservative Party,” said Tinari in a statement about Torres’ leadership and the future of the Conservative movement on Long Island.
Torres wasted no time getting to work. In his first term as chairman, the County Conservative Party helped re-elect Congressman Zeldin in 2020 and elect Andrew Garbarino to Congress to replace 14-term congressman Peter King. In 2021, the first local election with him at the helm of the party, the control of the Suffolk County Legislature hung in the balance.
And, if you have paid attention to local politics over the past several months, the 2021 election was nothing short of a “red wave,” led by Conservative and Republican voters heading to the polls in droves to support limited government, pro-law enforcement candidates all across our region.
Many of the candidates endorsed by the Conservative and Republican Parties in Suffolk emerged victorious following Election Day. Torres’ leadership was instrumental in electing Raymond Tierney as Suffolk County district attorney, electing Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) as majority leader of the Suffolk County Legislature in addition to flipping the body’s control to Conservative and Republican for the first time in 16 years.
Now, there are more registered Conservative Party members in elective office in Suffolk than any time in history. These successes have now paved the way for larger goals, including the governor’s mansion and the New York State Senate. And, with a hometown candidate as the presumptive Conservative and Republican nominee for the campaign, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who represents the East End, Torres wasted no time in throwing his party’s support to his candidacy.
The Suffolk Conservative Party was part of an early and eager coalition of county delegations to pledge their support to the East End congressman in his bid for governor. In April of 2021, Torres circulated a memo to his party faithful and the media informing them of his party’s endorsement.
“In Suffolk County, we have had the privilege of being represented by Congressman Lee Zeldin, first in the State Senate and now in Congress, we’ve witnessed firsthand the results he’s delivered for Long Islanders,” Torres said in a statement. “After our meeting, our party voted overwhelmingly to lend its full support and endorsement to Lee Zeldin as we fight to save our state. There is no doubt in my mind that Lee will restore our state to one we can be proud of.”
And while the largest and most visible political campaign sweeping Long Island is certainly that for the governorship, Long Islanders can not lose sight, Torres says, of the New York State Senate and the two open congressional seats on Long Island that include portions of Suffolk County being vacated by Zeldin and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), both of whom have their sights set on Albany.
Locally, Torres says the Conservative Party has endorsed Smithtown Town Clerk Vincent Puleo, a registered Conservative.
“My number one goal is to get Conservatives in office,” Torres says, referencing that his party is the largest Conservative force in the State of New York. “I have and will continue to fight for our voices to be heard, our interests to be represented in all levels of government, and I will remain committed to our conservative values as we collectively work to elect candidates to town, county, state, federal offices, and the bench.”
While he is new to the post of Suffolk chairman, he sees his role as expanding daily. The position of chairman of the Conservative Party is more than just a title, but a duty to continue to increase the presence, enrollment and influence of the Conservatives in Suffolk and statewide.
“Plain and simple: I see my new role as both an honor and a responsibility to our membership, the taxpayers, and the voters,” he says. “The main and most fervent goal we share as Conservatives is to elect those who reflect our values as Long Islanders, and provide a check-and-balance to those in power.”
Torres is a history-maker in his own regard, becoming the party’s first Latin American chair in history. He currently resides in Eastport with his wife, Betsy, and their two children. Torres intends to run for reelection as chairman at this September’s Conservative Party convention.
If his previous success is any indication, the Renaissance of the Suffolk Conservative Party is far from over, thanks to Chairman Michael Torres.
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.