The Suffolk Conservative Party’s move to back Republican State Sen. Phil Boyle for Suffolk County sheriff has sparked a political brawl with fellow Islip GOP contender Assemb. Al Graf, who called Boyle “the most unqualified candidate to ever run” for the job.
“He has no law enforcement background, no administrative experience and no budget background,” said Graf, a former New York City police officer and former town supervisor of upstate Brighton. “At a time when MS-13 is dumping bodies, it’s time to elect someone with the experience that can keep Long Islanders safe.”
Reached in Albany, Boyle said, “That’s unfortunate because I consider Al Graf a friend. I always abide by Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment that is not to speak ill of my fellow Republicans.”
Boyle chairs the Senate’s heroin and opioid task force. He has served on the Assembly and Senate Codes Committee, which deals with all state criminal laws, but has no direct law enforcement experience.
Graf and GOP sheriff contenders Larry Zacarese, a former New York City police sergeant and assistant chief of the Stony Brook University police, and Fred Sales, a retired Suffolk police officer, said they still have a strong chance to win the Republican nomination, but will wage a GOP primary if necessary.
Suffolk Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said he will continue to screen for the GOP nomination. John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman, did not return calls for comment.
The Suffolk Conservative executive committee on Sunday dumped three-term Conservative incumbent Vincent DeMarco and instead named Boyle, 55, a veteran 22-year state lawmaker as their sheriff candidate.
The minor party’s action came after DeMarco testified against ex-Suffolk Conservative chairman Edward Walsh, a corrections lieutenant who was convicted on corruption charges for illegally taking $200,000 in salary for time when he was golfing, gambling or politicking.
DeMarco launched his re-election campaign last week with a fundraiser where he said he may face a “few little battles” but will ultimately “win the war.”
Sources also said he interviewed with President Donald Trump’s administration for a position in the U.S. Marshals Service. DeMarco can run a Conservative primary, but cannot wage a GOP primary unless he get GOP permission. DeMarco did not return calls for comment.
Zacarese said of Boyle: “He does a great job in the Senate, where he’s a well-established statesman, but he’s not a viable candidate for sheriff because this is a law enforcement position.”
Sales, whose 40-year law enforcement career includes six as a city corrections officer, said, “To think he could go into the job with no absolutely no experience running a jail is just unbelievable.”
William Garbarino, Islip GOP chairman, remained neutral. “I’m not going to be against Boyle and I’m not going to be against Graf — I’ve got two dogs in this fight.”
Asked about Graf’s remarks, Garbarino said, “He’s upset and that’s understandable,” noting Graf declared his candidacy months ago. “He’s entitled to his opinion.”
Frank Tinari, Suffolk Conservative chairman, said, “Everyone had a chance to screen, the committee voted and I’m not going to comment on someone upset because they didn’t get the nomination.”