The Suffolk County Board of Elections on Tuesday certified the results of the Conservative Party primary in the Southampton Town supervisor race, with Linda Kabot maintaining her 1-vote lead to give her the victory.
Kabot, who already had the Republican nomination in hand, and fellow Republican Phil Keith had a write-in battle for the Conservative line during the September 10 primary, though only Keith had the blessing of Conservative Party leaders.
The Conservative Party had tried to give its line to Howard Heckman, a registered Conservative from Eastport, but Kabot successfully challenged the endorsement. Kabot showed that some signatures Heckmen collected to get him on the ballot were invalid because the same people had previously signed Kabot’s nominating petition, including Heckman himself. Kabot also filed an “opportunity to ballot” petition to force a primary, albeit one without any names on the ballot. The Conservative Party forward Keith, of North Sea, as its chosen write-in candidate—though voting party members, by the slimmest of margins, had a different idea. Kabot, of Quogue, received 73 votes to Keith’s 72.
Unofficial primary results had Kabot one vote ahead of Keith, though the Conservative Party filed legal challenges to ballots that misspelled Kabot’s last name or left off her first name. On Friday, September 20, Keith put out a statement calling for the legal challenges to be dropped. “I believe that it is in the best interest of fairness to leave the final decision on the disposition of these ballots in the hands of the Board of Election. I will abide by whatever decision they make,” he said. He said that the race is proof positive that every vote counts.
According to Kabot’s campaign, Anita Katz, the Democratic commissioner of the board of elections, ruled on Thursday, September 19 that the questioned votes should be counted, and then on Tuesday, September 24 Republican Commissioner Wayne Rogers agreed.
“Every vote counts,” Kabot said in a statement. “And that is how it should be when it comes to intent of voters. I am grateful for the fair, objective and bipartisan ruling of the election commissioners.”
She went on to say she is honored to have the support of rank-and-file Conservatives and is hopeful the party leadership will get behind her candidacy.
Kabot faced Anna Throne-Holst, of Noyac, in the general election November 5. Throne-Holst is an Independence Party member also backed by the Democratic and Working Families parties.