Southampton primary could be decided by 1 vote

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The outcome of write-in Conservative primary for Southampton Town supervisor remained undecided Tuesday night but could come down to a one-vote margin.

Backers of Linda Kabot, the Republican candidate, say she had a one vote lead, 73-72, over Phil Keith, a Conservative Party-backed write-in candidate in unofficial returns Tuesday at the Suffolk Board of elections.

But Conservative officials maintained they have a 72-67 edge because they are objecting to the validity of a half-dozen votes. The county's two election commissioners have not yet certified any results and a decision is not expected until at least on Monday.

"No one is claiming victory yet. We're waiting until the commissioner makes a final ruling," Kabot said Tuesday night. "But I'm excited and honored at the possibility of representing the Conservative rank-and-file voters. I believe my appeal as a candidate spans the political spectrum because I work in nonpartisan fashion."

"It's absolutely nip and tuck," said James Malone, Southampton Conservative Party chairman, who believes that the party's objections will be sustained. Conservatives had to mount their own write-in campaign for Keith after Kabot successfully challenged the petitions of Howard Heckman III, the minor party's original candidate.

Neil Tiger, a Kabot consultant, said the half-dozen objections are over spellings of Kabot's name, where some voters used a "C" instead of a "K." Both sides say that six of the seven absentee ballots went to Kabot. Three affidavit ballots were discounted as ineligible. There were also about a half-dozen write-ins, listing other names, including that of District Attorney Thomas Spota, and several votes for current Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member running with Democratic support.

If Kabot, a former town supervisor making a second comeback try, holds onto her claimed lead, it could give her a significant boost by also being on the Conservative line in her bid to unseat Throne-Holst in November. Reached Tuesday night, Throne-Holst declined to comment on the potential impact of the tight write-in race. "I'm going to keep focusing on my job and look forward to Nov. 5," she said.

In the 8th Legislative District, William Lindsay, son of the late presiding officer, was leading 14-13 over Anthony Gralto in unofficial returns Tuesday in a recanvassing of the Working Families Party primary. On primary night, Lindsay was leading 12-10. That race also has yet to be certified.

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