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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Highway-chief race brings strains inside Brookhaven GOP

The race for Brookhaven’s highway superintendent has gone hardball.

A Brookhaven Republican zone leader John Rago and committeeman Ed Lenox, former president of the Mid-Brookhaven GOP Club, say they were forced to resign party posts by town GOP leader Jesse Garcia because he won’t back away from supporting his hometown town board member, Kathleen Walsh.

Walsh is a Republican but is running for highway superintendent on the Democratic line and has switched her enrollment to the Independence Party, though that change does not take effect until after Election Day in November. Republicans are running Assemb. Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham). who has also has the Conservative and Independence ballot lines in the March 5 special election.

Garcia said he met with the dissidents, but called them part of Walsh’s “friends and families plan” who were rewarded in the past with patronage jobs. “These are people who unfortunately feel conflicted because their friendship,” Garcia said. “But this is a business, not a country club or a clubhouse. If they can’t adhere to the principles of the party, they have the option to resign.”

“Kathy has Republican values, but she is an independent woman votes her own mind,” said Rago, whose zone covers Walsh’s third district council district of Selden and Centereach. He added the local GOP did not give Walsh a fair shot at the nomination and snubbed her during last election night and at last year's town convention. Garcia also tried to pressure another GOP committeewoman, Theresa Speraduto, to resign, but she refused. Speraduto said the pressure tactics will backfire on the GOP, noting, “Kathy is very strong in the district.”

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