ALBANY -- New York's top court said Tuesday it would hear arguments in a lawsuit for control of the Conservative Party in Nassau County.

A faction of the party -- which some say is affiliated with the tea party -- sued county Conservative chairman Dan Donovan, saying his election as leader in September 2010 was improper. The legal issues center on the math of how many people were on the party's county committee at the time and how many were required.

As a practical matter, it involves the renegades' attempt to undo Donovan's election.

A lower court had dismissed the lawsuit on a statute of limitations technicality. But the New York State Court of Appeals said it would hear the case. No date has been set.

Both sides say they are confident they will win.

"I believe, when everyone looks at everything, they will find we did everything correctly," Donovan said. He added he was "not going to let the tea party" gain control of the Conservatives' county committee.

"We believe that Dan Donovan was not properly elected, shouldn't have his hands on the treasury of the party and shouldn't be in control of the party," countered Steve Legum, a Mineola lawyer representing Paul Kosowski, Robert Pendleton and others who are members of the Nassau County Civic Association.

Donovan's attorney in the case is Peter Bee, a Garden City attorney who frequently represents the Nassau Republican organization in election-law cases.

The case hinges on interpretation of an election-law formula for how many members are necessary to legally constitute the party's county committee. Legum said the party needs a member for every two election districts in the county, for a total of 569, and that the Conservatives had at most 566 at the time Donovan was elected. If so, Donovan's election is invalid, Legum contends.

Donovan's legal team contends the committee had 572, but also argues that more importantly, the law only pertains to election districts in which the party has enrolled members. That would lower the threshold to 524, according to Legum.

According to court documents, the Kosowski faction considered nominating Pendleton for county chairman, but ultimately did not.

Michael Long, the Conservative Party's statewide chairman, declined to comment Tuesday and said he doesn't "get involved in inter-county fights."

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