The Suffolk County Board of Elections ruled Tuesday that Southampton Town supervisor candidate Linda Kabot was the winner of the Conservative Party primary held two weeks earlier, defeating unofficial challenger Phil Keith by a single vote.
Ms. Kabot defeated Mr. Keith, 73-72, following a ruling by Board of Elections commissioners that six questioned ballots should be counted in her favor.
Ms. Kabot, a Republican from Quogue, will now have her name on the Conservative and Republican lines in the November election, despite attempts by the leadership of the Conservative Party to foil her. Her challenger, incumbent Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, will have three party lines on the November ballot: the Independence, Democratic and Working Families. She is a registered Independence Party member.
“I’m honored to have the support of the rank-and-file Conservative Party voters in Southampton,” Ms. Kabot said on Tuesday afternoon. “I remain hopeful that the Conservative Party leadership will work with me, for unity of purpose to help achieve victories for the entire Republican-Conservative slate on Election Day.”
Both Ms. Kabot’s running mates, Town Council candidates Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield, were endorsed by the Conservative Party leadership.
“I would like to congratulate Linda Kabot on her one-vote victory in the write-in campaign for the Conservative Party line on the November 5th ballot,” Mr, Keith said in a statement on Tuesday evening. “This has been a fascinating couple of weeks. I have learned a number of really interesting and useful lessons about the political process via this campaign.”
All the votes cast in the primary were write-in votes. There were no names on the ballot because the party’s initial candidate, Howard Heckman III, was disqualified by a challenge from Ms. Kabot that invalidated his nominating petition. It was ruled invalid by the Board of Elections because several signatories, including Mr. Heckman and his wife, had already signed a petition nominating Ms. Kabot to be the party’s supervisor candidate.
But Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh refused to certify Ms. Kabot’s petition, or give her the party’s endorsement. The party’s Southampton Town leader, Councilman Jim Malone, said at the time that Ms. Kabot’s record while in office of hiking taxes put her out of favor with Conservatives.
When Ms. Kabot forced the primary for the party’s line, the party’s leadership swore to find a candidate it would get behind rather than allowing her to win the election basically by default. Because there were no candidates on the ballot, Conservative Party voters could write in any name they wished. Just three weeks ago the party announced that it was supporting Mr. Keith of Southampton, a member of the Southampton Town Planning Board and a columnist for The Southampton Press, as their candidate.
Mr. Malone represented the party and Mr. Keith at the canvassing of the votes earlier this month in Yaphank, and filed the objections to the six ballots for Ms. Kabot. On Friday, Mr. Keith had asked that the Conservative Party leaders withdraw their challenges to the questioned ballots, though the point was moot by then since the their fate was already in the hands of elections officials.
Ms. Kabot said after the initial canvassing that the flagged ballots all appeared to be in her favor, but had a variety of misspellings that Conservative Party officials insisted invalidated them.
But on Tuesday, both Board of Elections commissioners—Democrat Anita Katz and Republican Wayne Rogers—agreed with Ms. Kabot by ruling that all six votes were clearly intended for her.
“I will continue to campaign on my fiscally conservative record of achievements,” Ms. Kabot said in a statement on Tuesday, “beliefs about smaller, more efficient government and bringing back competent, principled leadership to Southampton Town Hall based upon family values, fiscal responsibility, and having integrity in our local officials.”