By Kathryn G. Menu
It appears the primary race between Southampton Town Republican Supervisor candidate Linda Kabot and challenger Phil Keith for the Conservative Party line in the November 5 town elections will be a photo finish with unofficial results showing the candidates neck-and-neck as write-in ballots are being tallied from last Tuesday’s primary election.
The Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE) has yet to release any results from the write-in contest for the Conservative Party supervisor race. However, according to both Keith and Kabot, the votes have been counted and the race will likely come down to a handful of contested ballots BOE commissioners Anita Katz and Wayne Rogers will need to rule on before election results can be finalized.
Including those contested votes, which the Conservative Party has filed objections against over misspellings of Kabot’s name, this primary battle has come down to one vote.
That ruling, say both Keith and Kabot, will not likely be made until next Monday as one of the commissioners will be on vacation until then.
Last Tuesday there were 151 Conservative ballots cast in Southampton’s 42 election districts in the supervisor primary, seven that came in the form of absentee ballots.
According to Kabot, she has secured 73 of those votes, leaving 72 votes in favor of Keith. However, she will need the BOE commissioners to sign off on six votes Conservative Party leadership has objected to in order to capture the party line.
Kabot forced the primary by filing a petition against Howard Heckman III, the Conservative Party’s original candidate, whose own candidate petition was thrown out after legal challenges.
Kabot already has the Republican nomination and has secured a second line under Southampton NOW, an independent party she started this year. Keith was only announced as having the Conservative Party’s support a week before the election, which was a write-in contest for all candidates.
“No one has claimed victory,” said Kabot on Wednesday. “I am not saying I won, and neither is he.”
Kabot said while her attorney, Neil Tiger, did originally make objections to some of the ballots in Keith’s favor, she ultimately decided not to pursue the objections formally.
“Let’s let the rank and file who made a decision to come out and vote make this decision,” she said. “Let’s not argue about individual voters and their ability to spell a name over their intent.”
On Wednesday, Keith said he was informed by Southampton Town Board member and Conservative Party leader Jim Malone, who represented him at the canvassing while Keith attended jury duty, that he had 72 uncontested, confirmed votes.
“Linda has 68 confirmed and uncontested votes,” said Keith, who said he believed the party had contested just five votes.
“I have told Jim and the others that I am not going to argue if someone spelled Kabot with a ‘C’ or a ‘bb’,” said Keith.
However, Keith added he had also learned there may be three additional ballots in question.
Both candidates said on Monday their focus was on prepping for a supervisor debate, Thursday morning, hosted by the Southampton Chamber of Commerce. The Pancakes and Pundits buffet breakfast will be held at Seasons of Southampton Thursday, September 19 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and will feature a debate moderated by Frank Costanza, editor of the western edition of The Southampton Press.