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'Poison pill' seen in Dems' Suffolk judge deal bid

Chairman of the Republican committee, John Jay LaValle,

Chairman of the Republican committee, John Jay LaValle, on election night in Holtsville. (Nov. 3, 2009) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein, 2009

Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer’s proposal for a judicial cross-endorsement deal also has a poison pill, according to Republican sources -- aimed at the son of Schaffer's former nemesis, the late District Attorney James M. Catterson Jr.

The Democratic leader has floated the idea of backing Republican Surrogate Judge John Czygier for the patronage-rich post in return for the GOP backing Democrat Richard Ambro for county court judge.

Since the Republicans have already put forward the name of District Court Judge John Toomey to run for county court, Democrats, according to sources, would instead back Toomey for state Supreme Court next year along with incumbent Republican Denise Molia.

That would leave Associate Appellate Division Justice James M. Catterson, who is also up for re-election next year, out in the cold. Catterson’s late father prosecuted five key aides to Schaffer when he was Babylon supervisor for alleged wrongdoing connected to the town landfill. Four were acquitted; the fifth was convicted on a single misdemeanor.

John Jay LaValle, Suffolk Republican chairman, declined to discuss details of the deal, but said, “There’s been absolutely no progess...I’m not ready to say it's dead, but I clearly believe it has its challenges.”

Without a deal, Schaffer has said he will begin to circulate petitions for surrogate judge with the name of State Supreme Court Justice William Rebolini.

Photo: John Jay LaValle, Suffolk Republican chairman. (Nov. 3, 2009)

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