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Longtime Monroe County Conservative Party leader Tom Cook dies at 73


Tom Cook, the longtime chairman of the Monroe County Conservative Party, died Sunday. He was 73. 

Cook died after a two-week hospital stay that friends said began with a foot injury.

As leader of the Conservative Party since 1979, Cook made an art of exploiting the state's so-called "fusion voting" laws, which permit a candidate's name to appear on several party lines, to bolster the Conservative Party's standing in the county.

Over time, his party's endorsement became the key to countless elections, particularly judicial elections. While the party tended to latch on to Republican candidates, it was not shy about endorsing Democrats when the candidate showed promise.

“Cook used the Conservative Party registration to become the margin for candidates over the years," his longtime friend, Arnie Rothschild, said in a prepared statement.

Cook was born in Rochester and raised in Pittsford, where he kept a law office for many years. He served in Vietnam with the Marines and later became a lawyer, specializing in drunken driving cases.

Monroe County GOP Chairman Bill Napier in a statement described Cook's impact on local politics as "far-reaching."

"Tom shaped the Monroe County Conservative party into a political force, guiding the careers of many successful elected officials while running a successful law practice," Napier said. "Tom Cook exhibited and valued a quality rarely seen in politics today — fierce and unwavering loyalty. If you counted yourself among Tom Cook's many colleagues, political partners, and friends, assuredly, you could count on him to stand by your side in good times and in challenging times."