In a game of political musical chairs, Republican state Sen. Phil Boyle, who lost a GOP primary earlier this month for Suffolk County sheriff, has dropped out of the sheriff’s race and will run instead on the Independence Party line for state Supreme Court in November.
Boyle’s withdrawal clears the way for the Conservative and Independence parties to back the Democrats’ candidate, Errol Toulon Jr., against Republican primary winner Larry Zacarese, an assistant chief of the Stony Brook University police.
Toulon, a former New York City deputy correction commissioner, said he was encouraged by the “widespread support and confidence which shows they feel I have the best qualifications for the job.”
The Conservative executive committee Tuesday night endorsed Toulon, of Lake Grove. The Suffolk Democratic executive committee is scheduled to formally nominate Toulon on Thursday and the Independence Party is expected to back him within the next several days.
Zacarese called the nomination of Toulon, the Democrats’ third contender, a “desperate act by the political bosses . . . to keep the public out of the election process.” He said voters rejected the “un-American” dealmaking in the primary, and his campaign “will not be deterred.”
Boyle, of Bay Shore, has little chance of winning a judicial election with a single minor party line, but the nomination is the only way he can legally exit the ballot as a sheriff’s candidate. Also withdrawing as a Democratic sheriff’s candidate is Stuart Besen, who will run on the Independence line for state Supreme Court. Former Democratic candidate Dan Caroleo dropped out of the race in July.
While Boyle earlier vowed to continue in the sheriff’s race, he called his withdrawal a “mutual decision” with minor party officials who supported him. “This will allow them to support the candidate of their choice,” Boyle said.
John Jay LaValle, Suffolk Republican chairman, said Boyle should have endorsed Zacarese and “his actions either by ignorance or intent” help the Democratic candidate.
LaValle also said legal documents show Toulon was fired as deputy correction commissioner and failed to reduce jail violence, and then filed a lawsuit claiming racial discrimination.
Toulon called LaValle’s charges “totally untrue.” He said he was fired “because I refused to fudge numbers for City Hall.”
Toulon also said his anti-gang unit was responsible for bringing down 25 Bloods gang members in 2015, and that his training and applicant investigation unit drew accolades from federal monitors.
Frank Tinari, Suffolk Conservative chairman, called Toulon “almost certainly the most qualified and experienced person ever to run for the position of Suffolk County Sheriff.” And Toulon shares “our party’s values on law and order and safeguarding the public’s safety,” Tinari said.
Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said the race for sheriff now will center on credentials. He said Toulon has a significant edge after serving as a correction officer and a supervisor of correction staff.