It’s safe to say Linda Kabot, a former Southampton Town councilwoman and supervisor, would have been a top choice of the Southampton Town Republican Party for one of those open seats again this year.
After all, the once proud GOP has fallen on hard times in Southampton, especially in the past decade. “There is a lot of team building and unity needed; we need someone who has been there to strengthen the ticket,” she said.
That’s why Kabot chose to run again — but surprisingly not at the town level, where she is a proven vote getter. Instead, Kabot will take on Democratic incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, in what promises to be a highly contentious battle.
“I like Bridget. I really do,” Kabot said in an interview on Monday, March 4, but indicated that the two are “birds of a different feather,” and that Fleming is a “rubber stamp” for County Executive Steve Bellone. Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, who recently edged Jay Schneiderman to win reelection, is going after Bellone, and Kabot thinks it is important to support him. “He’s a strong candidate. Something has to be done. There has been a lot of expensive budgeting on the county level.
Talk about musical chairs. Schneiderman, the current Southampton Town supervisor, is said to have his eye on a county job, especially Bellone’s,” she said.
Fleming said she really isn’t concerned about what is happening around her. “I have a strong team here. We’ve accomplished some really, really good things,” she said. “My focus is on my record.”
The local GOP hoped Christine Preston Scalera, a popular town councilwoman and proven vote getter, would have take on Schneiderman this year, but Scalera backed out at the 11th hour. “It was hard on everyone . . . she pulled her name out with four hours left, but I understand,” Kabot said. “It’s not easy when you have a family.”
“My calling is serving,” Kabot said. “I have demonstrated that I have the aptitude and fortitude to serve as an elected official, and I believe that I have earned respect in the community for doing the right thing. I offer my candidacy to help.”
“I respect the process,” Fleming said. “It’s absolutely healthy for the government. If she wants to run she should run.”
Politics make strange bedfellows, and there are indications this year that with local primaries set for June, some political maneuvering and backroom deals will be put in place by then, if not before. In other words, hinted Kabot and others, be prepared for some surprises.
Kabot recalled that she was an elected councilwoman in 2007 when Supervisor Skip Heaney decided to pass over the incumbent Nancy Grabowski. Though Kabot had a seat on the board, she nevertheless took on Heaney in the primary and wrestled the supervisor’s chair from him in the general election.
Kabot is aware she does not have a voter base in East Hampton Town. “That will initially be a disadvantage, But I will work with focus groups to better understand the issues,” she said. “Politics is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage in the face of controversy and teamwork to put forward an issues-oriented campaign so that voters can choose.”