Judge tosses Brookhaven's Kathleen Walsh from GOP
GalleriesBrookhaven Town elected officials
Brookhaven Town Board member Kathleen Walsh is officially a woman without a party.
State Supreme Court Justice W. Gerard Asher, in a decision issued from the bench Friday, threw Walsh out of the Republican Party and disqualified her from running in the Sept. 10 GOP primary against party designee Kevin LaValle, brother of Suffolk Republican chairman John LaValle. A copy of his ruling will be available Monday.
While she was removed from the GOP primary ballot, Walsh will still face LaValle, a legislative aide, in the November election, as a candidate on the Democratic ballot line.
Jesse Garcia, Brookhaven GOP chairman, hailed the ruling: "The court issued a very strongly worded decision which found that she is not even a RINO -- a Republican in Name Only -- but was disingenuous and conducted political gamesmanship" to benefit herself, her family and her financial supporters.
Walsh did not return calls for comment, but Anthony Parlatore, Brookhaven Democratic chairman, said there appears to be grounds for appeal, and that a final decision will be made after reviewing the written decision.
Asher's ruling followed a hearing Tuesday in which Walsh, GOP leader LaValle and party lawyer Steve Losquadro testified. The party held hearings, chaired by Losquadro, in June to determine whether Walsh adhered to party values and philosophy. Walsh did not attend those hearings.
Walsh, who has traveled a zigzag political trail in recent years, was first elected eight years ago as a Republican town board member. During her tenure, Walsh allied herself with former Democratic Town Supervisor Mark Lesko and became his deputy supervisor.
Two years ago, town Republicans did not renominate her, but the party left the line blank, allowing Walsh to gather petitions to run on the GOP line.
Walsh's split with Republicans widened earlier this year, when she ran on the Democratic line in a special election for highway superintendent, a powerful and patronage-rich post. She lost to former GOP Assemb. Dan Losquadro.
Walsh earlier this year enrolled as a member of the Independence Party. But in an unusual quirk in state election law, her party switch officially takes effect after Election Day in November.
Walsh was still officially registered as a Republican and eligible to run in the GOP primary until Asher removed her from the GOP. Despite her party switch, the Independence Party endorsed LaValle for town board.