Who's the man behind New York's GOP curtain?
This consulting wizard has blue blood in his family roots as a political columnist and campaign strategist.
By choice and profession, the Mount Kisco resident, formerly of Scarsdale and Manhattan, remains behind the scenes.
As a teenager growing up during the Vietnam and Watergate eras, William F. B. O'Reilly said he was "always curious about politics of the day. The only thing I loved was current events." He said he hid his "nerdy" knack for listening to WINS news radio from his friends who would not have seen it as too cool while they were listening to Led Zeppelin.
O'Reilly admits never dong his homework, but his hand would always shoot up to answer any current events question.
"I wanted to know what really went on behind closed doors. What happens in the back room."
That trait has served him well as a political and public relations consultant. By name, he's sometimes mistaken for the former Fox News TV anchor.
After working briefly as a "not very good" news reporter in the British Virgin Islands, a cousin encouraged O'Reilly to join the Bush '88 presidential campaign.
That opportunity helped land him work as press secretary with state Sen. Roy Goodman starting in 1988 and later with members of the New York City Council and State Assembly.
After stints at two leading PR firms, O'Reilly started his own, along with consultant and now MSNBC contributor Susan DelPercio. He later formed The November Team, a political and corporate communications shop along Jessica Proud, another well-known communications pro. O'Reilly said The November Team never takes on more than three political candidates at a time in order to keep enough bandwidth for corporate clients here and abroad.
The one-time president of the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan most recently ran communications for Marc Molinaro for governor and Rob Astorino for county executive and governor. Running Republican Party campaigns in New York state and Westchester County is like David versus Goliath or the Joker in Gotham City. Despite those losses, O'Reilly predicted "I don't think the world has seen the last of Rob Astorino or Marc Molinaro."
To those who don't know him, he's sometimes confused with the former host of Fox television's "The Factor." But friends and associates call him "The Good Bill O'Reilly."
O'Reilly, 55, is named after his grandfather, Texas oilman William F. Buckley. He is is a nephew of famous conservative columnist William F. Buckley, Jr. and another uncle, James, was a U.S. Senator from New York and Federal Court of Appeals Justice.
O'Reilly said he fell in love with politics as a boy placing Jim-Buckley-for-Senate stickers on lamp posts in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood where his family then lived. He eventually attended Pelham Junior High School and Rye Country Day School. His family line includes a string of other accomplished writers on both his maternal and paternal sides.
O'Reilly always has favored running positive campaigns, but he's not afraid to hit hard. "You can smash heads during a race, but you must always shake hands at the end." For instance, he loves the concept of the concession call, whether it's given or received. "It keeps candidates good with the world," he said. "When a campaign is over, politics should be set aside and the hard work of governing must begin."
But he's made some enemies among his former GOP allies with his "Never Trump" columns in Newsday. O'Reilly has written one to two political columns a week for the past several years, and hasn't hesitated to challenge his own party's leadership when he feels it had gone astray. He frowns on the increasingly polarized political climate: "It's become so dumbed down and meme-driven. ... There's no unifying message," he said. "Suffice it to say, I'm not a fan of populism."
Indeed, his philosophical differences with Donald Trump prompted O'Reilly to he switch his voting registration from Republican to Conservative for the first time in more than 30 years.
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