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GOP Is On Hunt For Candidate

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By Claire Walla

Though Southampton Town Democrats and Republicans held nominating conventions last month, one party is still on the hunt for its lead candidate.

According to Southampton Town GOP Chairman Ernie Wruck, the party will have until July 14 to find a candidate for town supervisor and turn in its final petition.

On May 19, the Republican Party announced current Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi as its choice of candidate to run for town supervisor against incumbent Anna Throne-Host (Ind.) in the town’s elections this November. The nomination was thrown into a veritable ping-pong match, during which Nuzzi — who had previously announced he would not seek higher office — took two weeks to contemplate the offer, before finally, officially declining.

Both Republican candidates for the two open town council seats — newcomers Bill Hughes and Christine Scalera — in recognizing their newness to the position of town board, have said they will not seek nominations to the supervisor’s slot.

As to who the next nominee would be, Wruck only said his party is “having conversations,” and as to whether or not the GOP has narrowed down a list of candidates, Wruck added, “I would rather not say.”

But, he did hint that the party will not limit its focus to those already versed in politics.

“We’re looking at a handful of people, and I’m not precluding that somebody might come out of the blue,” he explained.

Then, alluding to current East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Wruck added, “it might be that a former executive from Disney sees an opportunity and wants to step-up.”

Wruck added that sometimes the best person for the job comes from a non-traditional line of thinking.

In terms of altering its ballot before November, Wruck said his party won’t have to jump through too many hoops.

In fact, a member of the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE) — who preferred not to be mentioned by name in this story — explained that neither party will have official candidates until July 14, when petitions are due to the board of elections. (The first day to file is July 11.) At that point, candidates will legally have four days in which to refuse their party’s nomination.

So for now, the GOP need merely select a candidate and collect 500 signatures for his or her petition before that date.

“It’s no big deal,” the BOE representative said of Nuzzi refusing his party’s nomination. “People do it all the time.”

The as yet unnamed GOP candidate for supervisor will join town council candidates Hughes and Scalera on the Republican Party Ticket; competing against incumbent supervisor Anna Throne-Holst (Ind.), incumbent councilwoman Bridget Fleming (Dem.) and newcomer Brad Bender (Ind.) who is running for the other town council seat that is up for grabs.

Thiele Switches, Joins State’s Independence Party

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web-Fred

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. announced on Friday that he will leave the Republican Party to become a member of the state’s Independence Party. In July, Thiele eyed a switch to the Democratic camp but has remained mum about the issue for the last several months. However, it would seem the state of affairs in Albany has finally pushed Thiele to change his political allegiances.

“Today, I am convinced State legislative leaders are too invested in the status quo and business as usual to bring genuine reform to Albany,” said Thiele in a statement released last Friday.

During a later interview, Thiele said the Republican Party had adopted a “go along to get along,” lackadaisical approach to politics in the State Assembly. He added that although several Republican assemblymen and women would be more than willing to object to certain pieces of legislation, they rarely proposed viable alternatives to a bill.

In the past, Thiele has received criticism from members of his party for voting in ways that differed with the common Republican political stance.

“Most recently, I voted for the marriage equality bill and some in the party were opposed to that position,” said Thiele, citing the bill circulated through the Assembly in May which sought to legalize civil unions between gay and lesbian couples. As a member of the Independence Party, Thiele believes he won’t be as beholden to party leaders or be expected to “toe the line” on certain issues.

Thiele has been a member of the Assembly since 1995. A ranking Republican assemblyman, Thiele has participated on several committees. Yet when Thiele first secured the position of Southampton Town Supervisor in 1991 he ran as a member of the independent Southampton Party, which he helped to form.

“In 1991, I was convinced that the only way to bring change and reform to Southampton Town was to run as an independent … and the Southampton Party did bring real change. Why enroll as a [member of the Independence Party] now? It is my belief that the State Independence Party represents the best chance to fight for the changes and reforms that I think average New Yorkers long to see from their state government,” said Thiele in the statement.

“This was the most frustrating year [of all my years] in Albany. The Senate shut down for five weeks,” added Thiele during an interview. “There is excessive partisanship. People are more concerned with power than those they represent. It didn’t seem to me that things were going to change by doing business as usual.”

In his released statement, Thiele asserted that the Republican Party was once in a position to effect change but has recently seen a drop in support.

“The number of Republican Assembly members has dwindled from 58 to 40 in little more than a decade. Every month, registered voters are abandoning the Republican Party in droves,” noted Thiele.

He attributes these decreases to the party’s apparent inability to protect the economic interests of their constituents, which he notes is ironic, as fiscal responsibility has always been a cornerstone of the Republican philosophy.

“The Republican Party in the Assembly no longer speaks to the pocketbook issues everyday people care about. Here’s just one example. This year … the Legislature passed an MTA bailout plan with a crippling new payroll,” stated Thiele in the release. “My decision today allows me to continue to be that independent voice to change an unacceptable status quo without fear of being called disloyal by party leaders.”