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Long IslandSuffolk

Suffolk GOP names Tara Scully as District Court candidate

Suffolk Republicans Wednesday named Tara Scully, daughter of a high-level aide to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, to run for a Brookhaven District Court judgeship that opened last month when GOP incumbent Glenn Murphy went to the state Court of Claims.

However, Scully, 38, of Stony Brook, will have to run without Conservative cross-endorsement. The minor party, which often cross-endorses Republican candidates, is running one of its own, Howard Heckman, 63, of Center Moriches.

John Jay LaValle, Suffolk Republican chairman, said Scully is "a very talented lawyer" who is a former president of the Suffolk Women's Bar Association and will increase diversity in Suffolk's courts. He said Democrat Bellone's appointment of Scully's father, Peter Scully, a Republican, as a $162,000-a-year deputy county executive played no part in the party's deliberations.

Conservatives went their own way even though Republicans already had cross-endorsed three Conservative District Court candidates and a Conservative Family Court contender. "I'd say I'm surprised and somewhat disappointed," said LaValle, adding that Conservatives are "entitled to select a candidate of their choosing."

LaValle downplayed the impact of Scully's having to run without the Conservative line, which typically gives candidates 7 percent to 12 percent of their vote total. "I think a well-qualified person will prevail on the ballot, no matter the number of political endorsements," he said.

In all, Conservatives have 11 of 73 judgeships in Suffolk.

Frank Tinari, Suffolk Conservative executive vice chairman, called Heckman a "stellar candidate" who served eight years as an assistant district attorney, more than two decades as law secretary to former state Supreme Court Justice Melvyn Tannenbaum and now works as a court attorney-referee.

Heckman's daughter, Betsy, law clerk to state Supreme Court Justice John Collins, is engaged to be married to Michael Torres, secretary of the Suffolk Conservative Party. Torres is facing criminal charges for, prosecutors say, concealing criminal convictions on his Islip Town job application. He has pleaded not guilty.

Murphy was named as a $174,000-a-year Court of Claims judge last month. Murphy was chief of staff to LaValle when he was Brookhaven Town supervisor.

Democrats are backing former District Court Judge Stephen Ukeiley for the $157,000-a-year District Court seat in Brookhaven. Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer could not say what impact the GOP-Conservative split may have on the vote.

Peter Scully worked as a top aide to former GOP County Executive Robert Gaffney, and in Republican administrations in Brookhaven and Islip.Former Gov. George M. Pataki, a Republican, appointed Scully as the Long Island regional director of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

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