Southampton Town supervisor candidate Linda Kabot and would-be challenger Phil Keith are locked in what appears to be a dead heat for the Conservative Party line in the fall election after the write-in ballots from last Tuesday’s primary votes were counted this week.
While the Suffolk County Board of Elections has yet to confirm any official numbers, accounts from this week’s canvassing of the 151 Conservative ballots—144 of which were cast on primary day, and supplemented by seven absentee ballots—were that Ms. Kabot and Mr. Keith were separated by a single vote.
But representatives of the Conservative Party have filed challenges to six ballots that observers say appear to be cast in favor of Ms. Kabot, because the names written in were not exactly how Ms. Kabot spells her name. Those challenges, if upheld, could give Mr. Keith the line in November.
Board of Election officials, however, do not expect to finalize the results until next Monday or Tuesday at the earliest, forcing both candidates to wait a bit longer before knowing who will secure the line.
“There are six pending challenges, all based on misspellings,” Ms. Kabot said by phone from the Board of Elections offices in Yaphank on Tuesday afternoon. “I did not have any challenges. My position was that if it was close enough to Keith, and it was clearly not a ‘Kabot,’ I wasn’t going to object. There are 450 variations of my name, and I think they should all be honored.”
Ms. Kabot said the misspellings included attaching a “y” to her first name, or a “C” at the start of her last name. Some voters simply wrote in her last name, “Kabot,” on the ballot. Ms. Kabot said that because neither her husband, Lance, their son or any other person named Kabot has voiced an interest in seeking the Conservative line for supervisor, those single-name votes should go in her pile. She also pointed out that several ballots counted for Mr. Keith had similar misspellings or incomplete names that she did not object to.
By her own count, Ms. Kabot said she appears to have received 73 votes from people who clearly intended to write in her name. She said she counted 72 votes that appear to be for Mr. Keith.
Mr. Keith also said that he has been told that he has 72 verified votes and that, not including the challenged ballots, Ms. Kabot has 67 verified votes. He acknowledged that if all the challenged ballots are ruled valid, Ms. Kabot appears to have won the line.
“I am told it is too close to make a call,” Mr. Keith, a columnist for The Southampton Press, said on Tuesday. “This is all new to me.”
Board of Election officials said on Tuesday that it will likely be next Monday or Tuesday before a final certification is made in the race. The county is in the process of completing canvassing in other races across the county so that all challenges can be ruled on at the same time. One of the two commissioners who must rule on challenges is also away from the office this week because of a personal matter.
There were several other names written on ballots as well, Ms. Kabot said, though it is not clear whether all or any of them would be considered valid votes for a town supervisor candidate. Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst got two votes, neither spelled correctly. Former Southampton Town Police Officer Charles McArdle also received a vote, as did former Town Councilman James Drew and Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, though that vote was cast only as “Spota III.” John Smith, Phillip Roberts and Dough Dwyer also received votes.
There were no names on the actual ballot last Tuesday, nor a Conservative Party line, nor a column for the town supervisor’s race. Ms. Kabot forced the no-name primary by filing a primary petition against the party’s straw man candidate, Howard Heckman III, and then getting Mr. Heckman’s own candidate petition thrown out due to legal challenges.
Mr. Keith, who never declared himself a candidate, was tapped by Conservative Party leaders as their preferred write-in candidate, rather than Ms. Kabot. On Tuesday, the party’s town leader, Councilman Jim Malone, represented the party and Mr. Keith for the canvassing.
The Southampton Chamber of Commerce will hold its “Networking Buffet Breakfast” this morning, September 19, at the Southampton Social Club from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The breakfast will include a panel discussion with Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and supervisor candidates Linda Kabot and Phil Keith. Tickets are $30.
On September 21, Chris Nuzzi will hold a grand opening at his new campaign headquarters on County Road 39 in Southampton, across from the Hess gas station. The event starts at 10 a.m.. Coffee and bagels from new neighbor Goldberg’s Bagels will be served. There is no charge for the event and all are welcome.
Later on September 21, Southampton Town Council candidate Brad Bender will hold a “Wine, Roses & Jazz” party in the garden of his home in Northampton to raise money for his campaign. The event runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and a $50 donation is requested. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Go to bradbender.com/events for more information.
On Monday, September 23, the Hampton Bays Civic Association will hold its first meet the candidates forum for the candidates for Town Trustees and Suffolk County Legislature. The event starts at 7 p.m. in the town community center on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays.