The Nassau County Republican executive committee's Wednesday decision to back incumbent Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello for re-election set the stage for a primary challenge in September.
City Councilman Anthony Gallo Jr., a Republican, in March announced he would challenge Spinello, an Independence party member, for mayor.
David Zatlin, chairman of the Glen Cove Republicans, said Spinello was the right choice for the party.
"Reggie has shown that he's been loyal to Republican values," said Zatlin, who praised Spinello as a fiscal conservative and booster for the city.
"He certainly has a great business background," Zatlin said. "Glen Cove was in need and continues to be in need of someone with a business background."
Zatlin said that Gallo had been welcome to run for re-election to the city council as a Republican but the party was behind Spinello for mayor.
Spinello and Gallo have clashed during the mayor's first term on issues ranging from replacing deceased City Councilman Nicholas DiLeo to creating a charter review commission.
Spinello, who was elected mayor in 2013, said he was pleased to again have the GOP backing. He has run for office in Glen Cove three times, including an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2007 before being elected to the City Council in 2011.
"I'm basically a centrist," Spinello said Thursday "I lean to the right but I cross over party lines; I work with everyone."
Gallo, who received the greatest number of votes of any city candidate in the past two elections, said Spinello's nomination was expected.
"We anticipated the establishment was going with the incumbent," he said Thursday.
Gallo, who has voted with Spinello on several issues, said he would govern differently.
"I'm all about transparency and I do believe I could do a more effective job," Gallo said. The Nassau Republicans did not choose a full slate for the six seats on the Glen Cove City Council, backing two incumbents, Joseph Capobianco and Pamela Panzenbeck, but not nominating Republican Councilman Efraim Spagnoletti who has been Spinello's most vocal critic on the council.
Zatlin said a full list of candidates would be released Friday..
"We're trying to create a City Council that's a little more cohesive," Zatlin said.