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Long IslandPolitics

Suffolk Democrats reverse course on convention-vote request

Huntington Town Democratic Committee leader Mary Collins on

Huntington Town Democratic Committee leader Mary Collins on Monday night, May 22, 2017, in Hauppauge, where it was decided to choose a town supervisor candidate at an upcoming nominating convention. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Huntington Democratic chairwoman Mary Collins’ plan to have the town party skip a convention vote for a supervisor candidate and the rest of the slate of contenders was reversed Monday night after a 45-minute closed-door meeting between candidates and party officials.

Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman who led the meeting after the Suffolk County Democratic Convention in Hauppauge, said that Collins, who disclosed her plan in an email Friday, wanted to avoid the “division and bitterness” that sometimes occurs when the party committee members get embroiled in a nomination floor fight.

However, Schaffer said the majority of the 15 contenders for elected office favored giving committee members a chance to vote Thursday on who they would prefer to have as the party’s candidate.

The town party convention is scheduled for Thursday night at the American Legion Hall in Halesite. Those not chosen could still gather petitions to run in a primary. A minimum of 1,000 signatures is needed to qualify for the primary ballot, but experts say serious contenders usually need 1,500 to 2,000 signatures to survive potential challenges.

Huntington Town board member Tracy Edwards, the only incumbent seeking the party nod for town supervisor said, “I think we should allow the people their Democratic right to vote” Thursday. Party sources said that Edwards’s two opponents were against a vote at the town convention.

After the closed door meeting, Darryl St. George, a history teacher from Centerport, one of those vying with Edwards and a backer of Collins plan, declined to comment on the reversal.

“I look forward to Thursday,” he said. “I think it will be a long night.”

The other supervisor contender, Brian Muellers, a former Nassau County legislator who now lives in Huntington Station, had also backed Collins original plan as the best way to pick the party nominee to succeed Frank Petrone, who is retiring after 24 years in office. Muellers left the meeting early and could not be reached for immediate comment.

The closed-door session lasted longer than the half-hour county convention where party committee members designated candidates for 12 of the 18 county legislature seats.

They also renominated incumbent Family Court Judge Theresa Whelan, and named Independence Party District Court Judge David Morris as the party’s candidate to county court.

Tthe party put off nominating candidates for district attorney and sheriff to allow Schaffer more time to negotiate for cross-endorsements with minor parties.

Legislative candidates named at Monday night’s Suffolk County Democratic Convention:

  • District 1 —Legis. Alfred Krupski, of Cutchogue
  • District 2—Legis. Bridget Fleming, of Sag Harbor
  • District 3 —Josh Slaughter, of Shirley
  • District 5 —Legis. Kara Hahn, of Setauket
  • District 6 —Legis. Sarah Anker, of Mt. Sinai
  • District 7 —Legis. Robert Calarco, of Patchogue
  • District 8 —Legis. William J. Lindsay, of Oakdale
  • District 9 —Legis. Monica Martinez, of Brentwood
  • District 15 —Legis. DuWayne Gregory, of Copiague
  • District 16 —Town Board member Susan Berland, of Dix Hills
  • District 17 —Councilman Thomas Donnelly, of Deer Park
  • District 18 —Legis. William Spencer, of Centerport

No candidates were named at the convention to run for the legislative seat held by term-limited Republican Tom Barraga, of West Islip, or take on the following GOP legislators:

  • Tom Muratore, of Ronkonkoma
  • Tom Cilmi, of Bay Shore
  • Rob Trotta, of Fort Salonga,
  • Leslie Kennedy, of Nesconset
  • Kevin McCaffrey, of Lindenhurst

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