The Brookhaven Conservative Party has voted to endorse Sheriff Vincent DeMarco’s re-election bid, splitting with the county Conservative Party and setting up a primary fight against the county party’s choice.
The county Conservative board last month unanimously backed state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) for the elected post, which is up in November.
Frank Profeta, chairman of the Brookhaven Conservative Committee, said DeMarco was the best qualified candidate and represented “honesty and integrity.”
But Suffolk Conservative Chairman Frank Tinari said Brookhaven is not an organized committee, and “they have no authority whatsoever to make any decisions.”
Tinari said the county party’s decision to endorse Boyle was made after two days of screenings, which DeMarco failed to attend.
Profeta said the county party’s decision not to endorse DeMarco was prompted by allies of former Suffolk Chairman Edward Walsh, who was convicted on federal charges of gambling, golfing and politicking while being paid more than $200,000 as a sheriff’s lieutenant by the county. DeMarco had brought evidence against Walsh to federal investigators.
“The sheriff is a well-qualified candidate,” Profeta said. “They have a vendetta. That’s all it is. It’s retribution for Walsh.”
Boyle declined to comment.
Brookhaven Conservatives had their power to endorse town candidates stripped in 2014 after a failed attempt to oust Walsh as county chairman.
DeMarco said he was “thrilled” with the Brookhaven party’s endorsement.
DeMarco declined to comment on reports he has interviewed for a job in President Donald Trump’s administration.