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Town Republicans compete for Islip GOP leader role

Acting Islip Republican chairman William Garbarino has scheduled a party convention Wednesday night so he can seek election as the new town GOP leader, even though Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter is battling former Suffolk GOP chairman John Cochrane to get the post.

“I think it’s going to be a blood bath,” Suffolk Legis. Thomas Barraga (R-West Islip), a Cochrane backer, said of the convention to be held at party headquarters on Third Avenue in Bay Shore. The event, which will be limited to committee members and closed to the news media, is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Garbarino, a Sayville attorney and the party’s first vice chairman, took over temporarily as town leader in June when Frank Tantone resigned as party leader to run for Family Court judge as part of a four way cross-endorsement deal. The winner at the convention will lead the town party until September 2017, the remainder of Tantone’s term.

Those involved in town politics say both sides are lobbying intensely with the party’s 300 committee members to garner support.

Carpenter and the GOP town board majority backing Cochrane have substantial clout by controlling town patronage.

Garbarino and his backers will have an important edge in controlling the convention process itself.

Garbarino would not predict the outcome of the convention but emphasized “we must move forward” so the town GOP will be ready for the fall campaign. Garbarino’s son, Andrew, is a Republican state assemblyman from Bayport.

Carpenter did not return calls for comment.

Garbarino last week sent a letter to GOP committee members saying he has received complaints that some have “received pressure” to back a certain candidate for chairman or face “repercussions concerning your job” or “a matter that may come before certain boards.”

Garbarino, 70, said the alleged threats are “unethical and may be illegal,” and urged victims to make complaints to authorities.

Cochrane, 86, called Garbarino’s letter a “stink bomb” aimed at unfairly tarring the town supervisor.

“I think I’ve shown successful experience in leadership positions,” said Cochrane, who served as Suffolk GOP chairman for three years, and earlier as town GOP leader.

“I think the organization could use someone like myself who could stabilize the party and end the splintering that has been going on there,” said Cochrane, who also served for 21 years as a state assemblyman and 12 years as Suffolk County treasurer.

Carpenter has countered with a letter to the town committee opposing the often combative Garbarino because he appears before various town zoning and planning boards, “creating the appearance of a conflict of interest.” She said the next chairman “needs to bring people together . . . and be a consensus builder.”

Before stepping down, Tantone sought to clear the way for Garbarino by removing three Carpenter supporters — including second vice chairman Joseph Stassi and zone leader John Cochrane Jr., who is also a town board member — from the 21-member member town executive committee.

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