JOHNSTOWN - The Republican Party message coming out of the 50th annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Monday night was clear as a bell - the GOP is back.
Attacking what they said was bumbling Democratic leadership in both Albany and Washington, speakers told the 170 party faithful assembled at the Holiday Inn that the Republican Party is in a resurgent mode.
"The reception across the state has been outstanding," featured speaker and state Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos said. "People understand we need change in New York."
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
State Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos speaks during the Lincoln Day Dinner at the Holiday Inn in Johnstown on Monday.
Conservative Doug Hoffman of Saranac Lake, who ran unsuccessfully last year for the 23rd Congressional District seat, said before the dinner he is ready to run on both the Republican and Conservative lines. He said he is ready to again take on Washington and failures of the Obama Administration.
"It was very encouraging the way we ended up [last year]," Hoffman said. "The tea parties were a big part of my campaign."
The Fulton County Republican Club, in partnership with the Women's Republican Club of Fulton County, sponsored the annual dinner at which Johnstown native Harry Wilson received a standing ovation.
Wilson, who graduated at the head of his class from Johnstown High School and went on to success at Harvard, on Wall Street and as a Republican U.S. Treasury Department official assisting Obama, recently decided to seek the Republican nomination to run for New York state comptroller.
Prior to taking his seat, Wilson told The Leader-Herald that a few weeks ago he formed a Taxpayers for Wilson Committee, although he hasn't officially announced he's running yet.
"So far the reaction has been very positive," Wilson said.
Skelos, from the podium, acknowledged Wilson, who he said comes from a hard-working family in Johnstown.
"Harry has truly achieved the American dream of working hard and being successful," the Senate minority leader said. "I know he's going to be our next comptroller."
Skelos, hailing from Nassau County, said there's a renewed "enthusiasm" for the Republican Party on both the state and federal political scenes. The problems are the same for both, he said - overtaxation, overspending and a need to create more jobs.
"The Democrats are not listening to us," he said. "They're not listening to you."
Skelos said Gov. David Paterson's proposed $135 billion budget is "not responsible," and New Yorkers want something different.
"That's why people are coming to us and saying 'it's time for change,'" he said.
Fulton County Republican Committee Chairwoman Susan McNeil urged the gathering to carry the Republican messages of reduced government and saying no to current health care legislation wherever they go this year.
"It's our time," she said. "The voice of Fulton County is being heard ... Our people are not sitting back. Fulton County is not sitting back. It is our time."
State Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, said he is running again for a two-year term.
"Things are happening all over the state," he said. "We're going to take back the Senate. That's why I'm running again, so we can hold this seat."
State Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport, added: "I think we're poised for a great year in 2010. And you people are key to that."
Former Johnstown City Clerk Marilyn Muzzi was presented the annual Charles Hough Memorial Award for activism within the local Republican Party.
Former Gloversville 4th Ward Supervisor Anthony "Chart" Buanno was feted in a brief roast led by George Bevington, who had an association with Buanno as former director of the county Department of Solid Waste.
Buanno, who retired last year after a nearly 50-year political career, was called by Bevington the "godfather of the Fulton County Republican Party."
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.