Southampton Town Republican supervisor candidate Linda Kabot said this week she thinks the Conservative Party has been maneuvering to put Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst—a registered Independent endorsed by the Democratic Party—on its ballot line for the November elections.
Ms. Kabot said that Conservative Party leaders have actively thwarted her own attempts to earn the party’s ballot line, and she accused them of putting up a “straw man” candidate who would withdraw from the race, allowing party leaders to appoint a substitute without signatures of support from registered Conservatives.
The former town supervisor, however, said she believes she likely headed off the maneuver by the Conservatives through legal challenges to nominating petitions filed on behalf of the party’s pick for the position, Howard Heckman III.
“I believe there was intent to substitute Anna Throne-Holst into the Heckman spot,” Ms. Kabot said. “Mr. Heckman would have to decline … and the party would have three days to make a substitution. But at this point I don’t think Anna would want to be subbed into a bad petition anyway.”
Ms. Throne-Holst said she has not spoken to any of the Conservative Party leaders recently and is not aware of any effort to give her the Conservative ballot line. But, she said, if the party’s designated candidate were to withdraw and party leaders offered to place her name on the ballot as a substitution, she would accept the endorsement.
“I know they nominated someone—the fellow from Eastport,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “Certainly, I’d be honored [if he withdrew and she were given the nomination], but, no, I certainly don’t expect it. I would be surprised if any of that happened.”
Ms. Kabot submitted a petition to the Board of Elections to be placed on the Conservative Party line for the November election last week. But she said on Tuesday that she does not think Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh will sign off on her petition, clearing the way for a party primary between her and Mr. Heckman III, who lives in Eastport.
The Conservative Party’s town leader, Councilman Jim Malone, personally circulated petitions for Mr. Heckman and mailed them to the county elections board on Mr. Heckman’s behalf just two weeks after the party made its official nominations and chose no one for the supervisor’s race.
Mr. Malone did not return several messages seeking comment this week.
Ms. Kabot said that a comment by Mr. Malone in The Press recently, about the ability of a candidate to gather signatures of Conservative Party members in the town and petition to be placed on the ballot, spurred her to make her own attempt. She submitted a petition to the BOE last week, which was certified as valid by the county. But as a member of another party, state law requires that the local chairman of a party approve any other party candidates that could potentially end up on the ballot. Ms. Kabot said the deadline for Mr. Walsh to approve her candidacy was early this week and no such approval was issued.
Ms. Kabot said she has also filed a legal challenge to the validity of Mr. Heckman’s petition because, she said, several of the signatures on his nominating petition are not valid, because those people had already previously signed her petition—including Mr. Heckman and his wife.
“He only has 40 signatures, he needs 36 for his petition to be valid, and at least six of those people signed my petition also and signed mine first,” Mr. Kabot said. “He is a Conservative, so if his petition is valid, he’s the designated candidate. If it is invalid, and with no [approval] for my petition, there is no candidate.”
If there is no official candidate designated by today’s deadline, Ms. Kabot says she will file a new petition to essentially force a write-in primary vote by members of the Conservative Party on September 10, the winner of which would be given the party line.
“At the end of the day, I would be honored to have the support of the Conservative voters, because I believe that I do bring the support of the values and issues Conservative voters espouse,” Ms. Kabot said. “But the party has, in essence, been taken over by up-island party interests.”