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After months of searching, Suffolk Republicans leaders finally screened three potential candidates willing to run against Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone in November.
The county GOP, meeting at party headquarters in Farmingville late Wednesday, interviewed former North Hempstead town board member James O'Connor, who now lives in Great River; former Suffolk Police homicide detective Robert Doyle, and former Smithtown Town Attorney John Zollo.
"They were all very impressive," said Suffolk Republican chairman John Jay LaValle. "It was a good meeting," he said, referring to the session that lasted nearly two hours.
LaValle said that no decisions were made because several of the 10 town party leaders could not be present for the meeting. LaValle said another meeting will be scheduled when all party leaders can be present to participate in the screening. He said he hopes to have a final decision by next week.
LaValle also said the Republicans have scheduled their county convention for June 1, one day before party committee members can begin circulating nominating petitions for candidates. the names now before party leaders are far less known than those which have been under discussion since late last year. those names have included state Sen. John J. Flanagan, who only a week ago became senate majority leader; Islip Town board member and former TV anchorwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt; freshman Suffolk Legis. Rob Trotta; and Riverhead town board member Jody Giglio, who is looking to run for town supervisor.
O'Connor served as a North Hempstead town board member from 1997 to 2001 before losing re-election. Zollo, served as town attorney in Smithtown for a decade from 1992 to 2002 and then again in 2012 to 2014. He said he was stripped of his post as "political payback" because he supported Town Board member Robert Creighton in a losing GOP primary against Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio. Doyle was a detective sergeant, served as head of major case in homicide and also worked in homicide. He is now retired.