William Powers, a top aide to Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) who was elected unanimously Monday to head the beleaguered New York state Republican Party, told party leaders, "We're going to go back to the basics."
Powers takes over a state party that is almost $1 million in debt after suffering its worst showing ever in November's gubernatorial election. Republican nominee Pierre Rinfret barely beat out the Conservative Party's nominee, winning just 21 percent of the vote.
Powers has been D'Amato's director of state operations since 1980. He also served as a political consultant to the state Senate's GOP majority for the past year. Powers said he will resign both posts and said he expects the party to pay him "at least" as much as the combined $107,500 he made last year from the two jobs. Powers replaces J. Patrick Barrett, a millionaire who was not paid a salary.
D'Amato is under investigation by the Senate ethics committee on allegations of influence peddling on behalf of relatives, friends and campaign contributors. He is expected to face a tough reelection battle next year. Some Republicans grumbled that Powers is too close to D'Amato to be chairman.