Suffolk Republican chairman John Jay LaValle, looking for an electoral comeback, has won the backing of fellow GOP leaders to run for county comptroller in November.

LaValle, 46, one-time town supervisor of Brookhaven, was chosen over Brookhaven Tax Receiver Louis Marcoccia and Islip Town Board member Steve Flotteron. LaValle is expected to be designated Wednesday night at the GOP county convention in Coram.

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"I see a county in trouble, a county bond rating which has been lowered again, and I see a rudderless ship," LaValle said Tuesday. "It's time for a captain who knows how to steer."

The comptroller, who earns $189,258 a year, oversees hundreds of millions of dollars in annual short- and long-term borrowings and has the authority to audit all county departments and contractors.

GOP incumbent Joseph Sawicki is term-limited and cannot seek re-election, and a new GOP comptroller could become a major counterweight to Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone and the Democrat-controlled county legislature.

No Democrat has ever won as comptroller since the post was created a half century ago.