David Gruber’s ascension to the top of the East Hampton Republican Party ticket wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it was nevertheless a stunning turn of events.
Gruber prevailed at a humdrum East Hampton GOP convention Wednesday night, April 10, to win the party’s nod for supervisor in the November election, but there is a chance he could still be denied a spot on the GOP ballot. In order for Gruber, who is not a member of the Republican Party, to be on the ballot, he must receive a waiver, called a Wilson Pakula, from the Suffolk County Republican Party head, Jessie Garcia.
“Manny Vilar is working that out,” Gruber said. Vilar is the local GOP party head.
Elaine Jones, the head of the East Hampton Independence Party, said Gruber is officially her party’s candidate and that she had been told by GOP party leaders Gruber will get the waiver. He is also close to securing the top line on the Conservative Party line.
Gruber said his team, the East Hampton Reform Party, would have a line on the ballot as well, though not under that name. Rona Klopman, a party mate of Gruber’s, said it might be called the Fusion Party.
Gruber said he gathered petitions to run against incumbent Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc in the Democratic Party primary, but has decided to forego that race in order to place himself in a stronger position for the general election in November. Plus, Gruber added, there is a physical limit to how many times a candidate’s name can appear on a ballot. After that limit, “bugs” are inserted with the names of the other party lines because of space concern. Gruber already looks likely to sit atop four party lines.
“I align myself closely with the Republicans on issues of local concern. I told the Democrats that two years ago,” said.
Gruber said he didn’t plan to run himself, but when the initiative to convince Jeff Bragman to run for supervisor on the Republican ticket didn’t materialize he decide to step up, noting the unrest in town. “We have a political monopoly,” he said. “They have an invitation to do anything.”
The wide-reaching coalition to challenge Van Scoyoc stems from what is believed his reluctance to oppose Deepwater Wind’s South Fork Wind Farm project. It was initially hoped Bragman, a Democratic and newcomer to the town board, could unite the other parties and oppose Van Scoyoc.
“The bottom line is I am happy being a councilman,” said Bragman, noting that like the supervisor he still has one vote. “I’m trying hard to be a good councilman.”