Republican Tara Scully filed about 6,000 signatures late Thursday with the Suffolk County Board of Elections to wage Democratic and Republican primaries for Suffolk Surrogate judge, a campaign spokesman said.
Scully, the daughter of a top deputy to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, filed 3,600 signatures to run in the Democratic primary and another 2,400 to wage a GOP primary. Candidates need 2,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
“The tremendous showing of support . . . shows that voters want to decide who is elected as Suffolk Surrogate, instead of having party leaders decide,” said Joseph Latini, a Republican who helped coordinate Scully's petition drive. “The fact that this tremendous number of signatures was collected in only 10 days shows voters want to change political dynamic in Suffolk County.”
If her petitions are found qualified, Scully would run against Conservative District Court Judge Marian Rose Tinari in the Democratic primary and possibly could face GOP designee Damon Hagan, a deputy Southold Town attorney, in the GOP primary. Judicial candidates can run in any party’s primary without authorization of party leaders.
Michael Dawidziak, Tinari’s campaign consultant, said Scully’s filing “raises a lot of questions” about the validity of signatures collected over so short a period and whether Hagan might withdraw from the race in favor of Scully. “I don’t think voters are going to want to have the same candidate running on the Republican and Democratic lines,” he said.
Tinari, the wife of Suffolk Conservative Chairman Frank Tinari and a former chief law clerk in Surrogate’s court, is running for Surrogate as part of a cross-endorsment agreement involving the Democratic, Conservative and Independence parties.
Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said he was “preparing to defend our party’s nominees against this attack by the Republican leadership and the county executive,” referring to Bellone.
Suffolk GOP Chairman John Jay La Valle did not return calls for comment and Bellone declined to comment.
Frank Tinari said his party’s executive committee will meet in Central Islip Friday night to discuss issuing authorizations for candidates for other offices who are non-party members –primarily Republicans—to run on the Conservative ballot line. He declined further comment since his wife is the Surrogate candidate.
Michael Torres, Suffolk Conservative Committee secretary, said last night: “I don’t think this looks good for some Republican candidates at this point. We’ll see how the 48 members of the executive committee feel tomorrow night.”
One potential target for retribution by Conservatives is the key Third District state Senate seat. GOP incumbent Tom Croci is not running again, and Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) is facing off against Suffolk County Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood).