State Supreme Court Justice W. Gerard Asher, in a scathing opinion throwing Brookhaven Town board member Kathleen Walsh out of the Republican Party, said she was “disingenuous” and “gaming the system” in her re-election run.
Asher’s ruling was delivered from the bench Friday, but was not formally released until Monday.
“In the parlance of the day, RINO, is a Republican In Name Only,” ruled Asher. “Ms. Walsh is not even a RINO because she is already enrolled in a different party."
Brookhaven GOP officials moved to oust Walsh, who re-registered as an Independence Party member earlier this year and is running on the Democratic and Working Families ballot lines. Brookhaven Republicans made the move to block her from running a Republican primary against GOP nominee Kevin LaValle, brother of Suffolk Republican chairman John Jay LaValle.
While Walsh has re-registered as an Independence Party member, her party switch does not take effect until after Election Day. That meant until her ouster she was still officially a Republican and eligible to wage a GOP primary Sept. 10 for her Third District town board seat.
“Because of this quirk in the law, Ms. Walsh can attempt to hold herself out the public as a Republican when she is anything but a Republican,” said Asher, a Republican. “This court concluded that Ms. Walsh has been involved in a win-at-all-costs effort, which in reality is nothing more than gaming the system.”
Asher also made “the humble suggestion to those with authority do something to close this loophole.”
While the current law was put in place to prevent raiding of smaller third parties, Asher suggested the law be changed so that no person who has enrolled in a new party can seek to run a primary in his or her old party without the old party’s authorization.
The court decision comes after town Republican officials held hearings and determined Walsh was not in sympathy with party principles, given that she ran on the Democratic line for town highway superintendent earlier this year and accepted the Democratic and Working Families party lines for re-election.
"How could anyone conclude that Ms. Walsh was in sympathy with the Republican Party based on her actual actions over the period of time from January 2013 to the current date? It’s just an impossibility,” Asher ruled.
Walsh said that she thought the decision was overly harsh, and said she and advisors are still considering whether to appeal the ruling, but that she was leaning against it.