By Kathryn G. Menu
The Suffolk County Board of Elections certified Linda Kabot as the winner of the Conservative Party primary in Southampton held two weeks ago on Tuesday. Kabot bested challenger Phil Keith, who had the support of Conservative Party leadership in the write-in contest between the two candidates, by just one vote.
According to the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Kabot took the race with 73 votes to Keith’s 72.
The September 10 primary battle was waged solely with write-in votes. No names appeared on the ballot after original Conservative Party candidate Howard Heckman III’s nominating petition was deemed invalid when Kabot challenged it on the basis that several people signed the petition, including Heckman, after signing her own.
After Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh would not certify Kabot’s own petition for the party line, she forced a write-in primary battle. A little over a week before the September 10 primary, the Conservative Party announced it would support Keith, a veteran, member of the Southampton Town Planning Board and columnist with The Southampton Press, in the race.
Prior to Tuesday’s decision, board commissioners had yet to weigh in on six ballots for Kabot which Conservative Party officials had contested. On Friday, Keith released a statement noting he had requested the Conservative Party leadership suspend the challenges they had made, although at that point the matter was already before Suffolk County Board of Election Commissioners, Democrat Anita Katz and Republican Wayne Rogers.
“If Ms. Kabot wins, I will be the first to congratulate her,” said Keith on Friday. “No matter what happens, this is a tremendous victory for the members of the Conservative Party. They, not a ‘committee’ or a series of behind-the-scenes maneuvers or petitions will have determined who will represent their interests in the November election. It’s also a wonderful civics lesson: sometimes we think our votes don’t count, that one vote can’t make a difference. Well, here’s proof positive that even one vote does make a difference, and that is as it should be.”
Last Thursday, Katz ruled in favor of allowing the contested ballots to be counted for Kabot and on Tuesday, Rogers followed suit.
Kabot now has the Republican and Conservative party lines in the November 5 general election. She will face incumbent Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, a member of the Independence Party who is running with the support of the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party.
“I am honored to have the support of rank and file Conservative voters in Southampton Town who regard me as a viable, serious challenger to the incumbent town supervisor,” said Kabot in a statement issued Tuesday night. “I remain hopeful that the Conservative Party leadership will work with me with unity of purpose to help achieve victories for the entire Republican-Conservative slate on Election Day. I will continue to campaign on my fiscally-conservative record of achievements, 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. On Election Day, November 5, I ask for the vote of confidence from voters across the political spectrum for my candidacy for Southampton Town Supervisor.”
“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 5 ballot,” said Keith in a statement issued Tuesday night. “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. I can’t wait to share my unvarnished observations, which I intend to do, starting next week, as I resume my regular column in the Southampton Press. Here’s a hint: nothing is ever as it seems.”