Contrary to rumors, Jay Schneiderman will indeed take on John Kennedy for the Suffolk County comptroller’s seat.
“I don’t know where these rumors are coming from,” the Southampton Town supervisor said. “The county is in trouble. We keep running up the deficit.”
Schneiderman expected to have a spot on the Independence Party ballot to go with his nods from the Democratic and Working Class parties.
Two sources close to the situation said Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay, who is notorious for his wheeling and dealing, “cut a deal” with the Republican Party and gave Kennedy the Indy line. Kennedy also secured a Conservative Party endorsement.
“No one’s going to scare me away,” Schneiderman said.
He said he would resign from his Southampton job should he beat Kennedy but acknowledged Kennedy has the edge with the additional endorsements.
Schneiderman burst onto the political scene in 1999 by winning the East Hampton Town Supervisor’s seat as a Republican and won again two years later, surviving a three-way battle with David Gruber and Bill McGintee.
He then turned to county politics, winning George Guldi’s East End seat in 2003 and keeping it through six full terms. He has a year left as Southampton Town supervisor, meaning he will retain the seat should he lose his race with Kennedy.
“I’ve beaten incumbents in the past like Cathy Lester and Guldi,” Schneiderman pointed out. If successful, Kennedy would be the third. “You are always at a disadvantage against an incumbent but I’ve got a shot,” he added.
MacKay has the authority to place any candidate on the Independence Party line through an enabling procedure known as a Wilson Pakula. He recently granted Gruber, a hardline Democrat, a spot on the East Hampton Independence party line ballot but refused two other candidates.
“He could have given it to David Lys and Manny Vilar as well and let the three of them fight it out but he didn’t,” Schneiderman noted. Lys and Vilar are, along with Gruber, candidates for the East Hampton Town Board. Schneiderman said he bears no grudges.
“I met with Frank. I consider him a friend. This is county politics. This is the way it is,” Schneiderman said.
MacKay could not be reached for comment.