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Apr 16, 2019 4:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Republicans Will Have No Supervisor Candidate On 2019 Ticket

David Gruber screened with the East Hampton Republican Committee on Wednesday.     KYRIL BROMLEY
Apr 16, 2019 7:30 PM

The East Hampton Town Republican Party will not field a candidate for town supervisor in this fall’s elections, after the party’s executive committee members failed on Tuesday to muster the paperwork needed to authorize a non-party member, David Gruber, to replace the party’s original nominee, Richard Myers, on the ballot.

Mr. Myers declined the nomination last week, and on Wednesday, April 10, Mr. Gruber spent more than an hour pitching himself to a small contingent of the Republican Committee in Amagansett. He roundly criticized the current Town Board and the town’s Democratic Party, of which he was once chairman and one of the chief architects of its political campaigns over the last two decades.

The Republican Party had already endorsed a mixed slate of Republican and Democratic nominees, and Mr. Gruber represented what appears to have been the GOP committee’s last option to fill the spot on its own slate left vacant by Mr. Myers before the Friday, April 12, deadline for offering a substitution.

The committee met the Friday deadline by filing a petition nominating Mr. Gruber for the supervisor post on the Republican line. Because Mr. Gruber is not a member of the Republican Party, however, a document called a Wilson-Pakula authorization would have been required for him to run on the Republican line. That document would have been approved and issued by GOP County Chairman Jesse Garcia, according to local political officials.

End of day Tuesday, April 16, was the deadline for a Wilson-Pakula authorization to be filed with the Suffolk County Board of Elections—and the local committee simply could not get the documents signed by party officials, notarized and delivered in time for the deadline, according to Kyle Ballou, the committee’s secretary.

In fact, no Wilson-Pakula authorizations were filed for any candidates to be on the Republican line from outside the party—so the so-called “fusion” candidates will be on the Conservative and Independence party lines of the East Hampton Town ballot this fall, but not the Republican line.

"It's okay in the end," Mr. Gruber said on Tuesday, noting that he declined to run a Democratic primary once he was assured of what he described as an election "where the whole community can vote."

"Everyone will have a choice," he said. "You can't have a democracy without an election, and we're going have an election."

"When you buck the entrenched party establishment, the establishment does whatever it can to frustrate you," he said. "Bucking the party establishment–that's what we're doing in East Hampton. What the party establishment has delivered for East Hampton in the last 16 years is nothing."

“Though disappointed, the East Hampton Town Republican Committee … is not deterred in its efforts to reach across party lines,” said a statement from the committee that was released Tuesday afternoon. “Nevertheless, the EHTRC fully supports the assembled fusion ticket and has worked diligently on and pledges to support each candidate on that assembled fusion ticket whether they appear on the Republican line or not.”

Members of the GOP committee who were present at last Wednesday night’s second round of candidate screening had wondered aloud whether endorsing Mr. Gruber would alienate traditional Republican voters in the town and depress turnout for a party that is already at a more than two-to-one disadvantage to the Democrats in voter registration.

Mr. Gruber had gone to great lengths in his pitch to the committee to distance himself from his former Democratic ties and downplay his stance on divisive national issues in favor of focusing on criticisms of the current town administration, and where he thought there might be common ground with town Republicans.

In answering questions on a variety of national ideological hot-button issues, Mr. Gruber did not try to entirely cloak his liberal views, but said that his focus as a Democrat on a Republican ticket would be on the very local issues on which he and, hopefully, some Republicans were more closely in agreement.

When asked about gun control, he was not against gun ownership but was not in favor of ownership of guns “designed for mass killing,” he said, adding, “Happily, that has nothing to do with the job of being supervisor.”

When one committee member asked about what he thought of East Hampton being a “sanctuary town,” Mr. Gruber said he thinks that enforcing immigration law should be left to federal authorities.

“I think the job of a community is to live together as a community, and that includes all the people who are here,” he said. “As long as people are here, I want to see them be a part of our community.”

Mr. Gruber said he would also avoid any political participation outside of East Hampton—his way of demurring from a question by Republican Town Trustees candidate Fallon Bloecker Nigro about whether he would stand up in support of Republican candidates Linda Kabot and John Kennedy, who are challenging incumbent Democrats for Suffolk County seats.

“The point of my being here tonight is to say, look, we’ve got local East Hampton issues that we have failed to address through our partisan battles but that we need to address,” he said. “If I’m part of a fusion ticket or a fusion government, I say that’s my job, and I can’t do my job as part of a collegial group that includes Republicans, Democrats and Independents if I’m going to be partisan outside of East Hampton.”

He also sought to dispel impressions that his main goal in seeking public office is to press the town to close East Hampton Airport. He acknowledged his long history of criticizing noise impacts from the airport on residents, but said he is not in favor of closing the airport entirely. He pointed blame at commuter helicopters, not small personal aircraft owned by local pilots—two of whom were seated in the room.

Mr. Gruber will still run on the Independence Party line, against Democratic incumbent Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc in his first re-election bid. Mr. Gruber had submitted petitions that could have allowed him to run a primary race against Mr. Van Scoyoc, but he declined to mount the intra-party race to the June primary election.

Mr. Van Scoyoc will run alongside incumbent Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and Councilman David Lys, while Mr. Gruber will run with Montauk commercial fishing advocate Bonnie Brady—also a registered Democrat—and politically unaffiliated former town code director Betsy Bambrick.

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The GOP can’t win in EH anyway.
By Draggerman (933), Southampton on Apr 17, 19 6:26 AM
1 member liked this comment
Pathetic
By Preliator Lives (429), Obamavillie on Apr 17, 19 6:58 AM
Two things are obvious - Manny Vilar talks the talk but has never demonstrated he can walk the walk - not as a candidate and now not as the Republican Chair. He can’t even get a simple Wilson Pakula for his “fusion” team. Not a hurdle at all for most leaders. Absolutely pathetic.
Two - By Gruber’s 16 year comment, it’s clear he is going to gather Schneiderman support and supporters for what that is worth. Not too obvious.

However, I feel for all the candidates ...more
By pluff (59), East Hampton on Apr 17, 19 7:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
WTF is the matter with Gruber? So desperate to buck his party that he humiliates himself before the party that has demonstrated it"s the enemy of the people. And then he's rejected, further humiliating himself. Maybe he should hook up with Bernie Sanders so he can crap even more on his Democratic Party.
By Jolly Roger (27), Southampton on Apr 18, 19 11:46 AM
Hopefully not anywhere else.
By Jolly Roger (27), Southampton on Apr 18, 19 11:48 AM
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