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Suffolk GOP names Supreme Court candidates at Monday convention

Suffolk Conservatives on Sunday named Theresa Bryan Whelan,

Suffolk Conservatives on Sunday named Theresa Bryan Whelan, seen on Aug. 30, as their candidate for Supreme Court. Credit: James Escher

Suffolk Republicans on Monday night named former Smithtown Town Attorney John Zollo and three former assistant district attorneys to their slate to run for state Supreme Court at a bicounty judicial convention in Melville.

Nearly 200 Republicans attended the convention, held at the Laborers Local 66 union hall in Melville. The other Suffolk candidates named to run for Supreme Court justice were Lane Bubka of Riverhead, Daniel Driscoll of Smithtown and Lawrence Kelley of Bayport, all former Suffolk assistant district attorneys now in private practice, according to party officials.

“We’re very excited; we’ve got great candidates to put before the public and we’re ready to go,” said Suffolk Republican chairman John Jay LaValle in an interview just before the convention began.

Zollo spent 12 years as town attorney in two separate stints, and later unsuccessfully sought a nomination for county legislator. Last year, he mounted a short-lived bid for town supervisor, but dropped out of that race.

In addition to Suffolk’s Supreme Court candidates, Nassau Republicans, in a cross-endorsement deal with Nassau Democrats, named as their Supreme Court nominees Republican Appellate Division Judge Ruth Balkin, and Democrats Norman St. George, a Nassau County Court judge, and Helen Voutsinas, a Hempstead District Court judge.

Suffolk Conservatives on Sunday interviewed the winner of the Democratic Surrogate Court judge primary, Theresa Bryan Whelan, and named her as their Surrogate candidate.

Conservative officials said they reached out, through three GOP town leaders, to invite Republican Surrogate Court candidate Tara Scully for an interview. Conservatives say they did not go through LaValle because he has publicly opposed the current minor party leadership.

Whelan replaces Conservative Family Court Judge Deborah Poulos, who became the minor party’s Surrogate Court candidate after District Court Judge Marian Tinari exited that race. Tinari, the wife of Suffolk Conservative chairman Frank Tinari, and Poulos will both run for state Supreme Court justice. Papers formalizing the nomination were filed with the Suffolk Board of Elections on Monday.

All three are running on the Democratic, Conservative and Independence Party lines, as are Democratic legislative counsel George Nolan, and Conservative Michael Gajdos, a former assistant district attorney and former personal lawyer for former Suffolk Conservative chairman Edward Walsh, now in federal prison after he was convicted on corruption charges.

Elsewhere, papers were mailed Monday removing Suffolk Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory as the congressional candidate on the Independence Party, Working Families and Women’s Equality ballot lines, and installing him as the Democratic candidate for county clerk.

That switch will allow Democratic primary winner Liuba Grechen Shirley to replace him on the Working Families and Women’s Equality party lines in the 2nd Congressional District. The Independence Party, which earlier had backed Gregory, is now endorsing Republican Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).

Correction: Democrat Theresa Bryan Whelan has the Conservative Party nomination for Suffolk Surrogate judge. A story in Tuesday's editions misstated the office the minor party has chosen her for.

Clarification: Republican Surrogate judge candidate Tara Scully did not receive an invitation to screen with the Suffolk Conservative Party for their endorsement and had no chance to respond. Conservative officials said they invited Scully for a candidate screening through three town GOP leaders. The Republican leaders later acknowledged the Conservatives' request, but said they never relayed the invitation to Scully because they did not have her contact information.

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