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OpinionColumnistsRita Ciolli

As the Suffolk sheriff race turns

The Point has learned that Suffolk County Democratic leader Rich Schaffer will not give Boyle the party ballot line to run for sheriff.

Sen. Phil Boyle in an undated photo.

Sen. Phil Boyle in an undated photo. Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

This originally appeared in The Point, the editorial board's newsletter for insiders. To subscribe, click here.

It looks like Phil Boyle is going back to the State Senate.

The Point has learned that Suffolk County Democratic leader Rich Schaffer will not give Boyle the party ballot line to run for sheriff. In an amazing rebuke by his own party, Boyle lost the GOP primary last week to Lawrence Zacarese, assistant chief of the Stony Brook University police. Schaffer will go instead with Errol Toulon Jr., a former Suffolk deputy county executive for criminal justice matters.

While Schaffer initially had promised the Democratic line to Boyle, meaning he could have run practically unopposed in November, the calculation changed dramatically with his primary defeat. Boyle’s continued quest for sheriff on the Democratic line and against the candidate of his party was too politically risky for both Boyle and Schaffer.

While Boyle still holds the ballot lines of the Conservative and Independence parties, his chance for victory there is impossible, so he is likely to ask to be removed from them as well. Instead, Boyle will head back up to Albany in January and seek to repair his standing with the party and his constituents by the time he comes up for re-election in 2018.

The nomination of Toulon provides an out for the Democratic leader, who is coming under increasing scrutiny by progressives in his party to stop playing footsie with the GOP and minor parties.

The key remaining question is whether the Conservative and Independence parties will dump Boyle from their November ballot lines and sign on with a new, and rather embarrassing, cross-endorsement deal.

So how does this all happen? Both Boyle and Stuart Besen, who was the placeholder for Boyle on the Democratic line, would have to be nominated this week for state Supreme Court judgeships in some county where they will be sure to lose. A judicial nomination and death are the only two ways a candidate can get off a ballot after he or she has officially accepted a nomination. And while Suffolk is still the Wild West of politics, the other alternative is not under consideration.

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