A Conservative Party primary for Hempstead Town clerk has generated an unusual amount of political heat for a normally noncontroversial position, including nine mailings in support of party-endorsed candidate Nasrin Ahmad and automated calls on her behalf by Rep. Peter King.
Ahmad, a Republican, is vying with Conservative Party activist Pat Basso Friedman for votes from Hempstead's 5,606 registered Conservatives.
Ahmad, 56, was appointed by the Republican-controlled town board this week to fill the vacancy created when former clerk Mark Bonilla was convicted of official misconduct. Ahmad has worked in the clerk's office for 15 years, but is a newcomer to electoral politics.
Friedman, 76, has battled candidates of all parties for about a half-century and was instrumental in the fight against the $24-million Trump catering hall project at Jones Beach.
Since Friedman qualified to run in the primary in July, Ahmad's campaign has sent out more than a half-dozen mailings, questioning Friedman's qualifications as a Conservative while praising Ahmad's experience. Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray put out a letter endorsing Ahmad and has also made robocalls on her behalf.
"I'm very honored that two distinguished public officials think enough of me to endorse my candidacy," Ahmad said through a spokesman.
Friedman, who has put out two mailings and plans her own robocalls, said, "It's become World War III. I must be a big threat."
If Friedman wins the Conservative ballot line, she likely will siphon votes from Ahmad, who is the Republican candidate for clerk. Registered Democrat Jasmine Garcia-Vieux is her party's candidate.
Stanley Klein, a political-science professor at LIU Post and a Suffolk GOP committeeman, said the flurry of GOP and Conservative outreach "is prima facie evidence that they are worried about the outcome of the primary."
But King, a Republican who has always run with Conservative support, said it wasn't fear that prompted his calls for Ahmad.
"I just thought it important to speak out," said King, of Seaford, who is mulling a run for president in 2016. "I think it's important to show the Republican Party and Conservative Party are supportive of women running for office."
King noted that he lives in Hempstead and is a former elected town official. "Even if I am running for president or even if I am a congressman, I am basically a Nassau County elected official. To me, my main identification politically is the local organization, the local government."Duties of the Hempstead Town clerk include maintaining town board records, publishing notices of public hearings and recording town ordinances, local laws and annual budgets. The position pays $106,500 a year. Typically, the clerk also serves as registrar of vital statistics, at a salary of $23,000.