SH supervisor says county comptroller victory still possible

Schneiderman Waiting For Absentee Ballots

Nearly a week after an Election Day that saw little in the way of local surprises, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman was not ready to throw in the towel in his bid to unseat incumbent Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy.

With 484,757 votes cast, Schneiderman, a Democrat who also ran on the Working Families and Women’s Equality lines, trailed the Republican Kennedy by only 8623 votes. Although Kennedy, who also had the backing of the Independence, Conservative, and Reform parties declared victory the night of the vote, Schneiderman said he would not formally concede until the nearly 30,000 absentee ballots are counted.

“If everyone votes along party lines, I’ll probably still be down at the end of the day,” Schneiderman said, “but I still think those votes deserve to be counted.”

Schneiderman said there were about 3000 more ballots from registered Democrats than there were ballots from registered Republicans and Conservatives. The wild card, he said, may be the thousands of ballots from unaffiliated voters.

With the Suffolk County Board of Elections office closed for the Veterans Day holiday on Monday, the results may not be known until Wednesday, November 14.

Other races ended as expected. Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin successfully held off the challenge of Democratic challenger Perry Gershon to win his third term in Washington by a comfortable margin of 52.5 percent to 46.5 percent. Kate Browning, running on the Women’s Equality line, accounted for the remaining one percent of the vote.

In East Hampton, Democratic incumbent David Lys, who had to first survive a primary challenge from David Gruber, rolled over his Republican opponent Manny Vilar by a 69-to-31 margin. Lys, who was appointed to complete the term of current East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, will have to run yet once again next year.

Short of a miracle finish in his county race, Schneiderman will also be up for reelection at the town level next year. Assuming he does end up on the short end of the ledger in the comptroller’s race, this would be the first election he has lost after two terms as East Hampton Town Supervisor and another 12 years as a Suffolk County legislator.

“It was an uphill battle from the start,” Schneiderman said. “Kennedy was the incumbent and there were a lot of minor parties at work.”

Although Schneiderman won six of 10 towns and outpolled Kennedy among Democratic and Republican voters, it was Kennedy’s support from the Conservative, Independence, and Reform parties that apparently
carried the day.

“It’s still a win-win,” said Schneiderman. “I finished within striking distance and proved I could be competitive in a countywide race. He rejected the notion that he was buoyed by a “blue wave” of Democratic voting in Suffolk County, pointing to Zeldin’s easy win and the narrow victories of Governor Andrew Cuomo and other Democrats on the statewide ballot.

Schneiderman, who had been a longtime member of the Independence Party before jumping to the Democratic side last year, lost the endorsement of party boss Frank McKay. That proved crucial, as Kennedy picked up nearly 6500 votes on the Independence line. Had those votes gone to Schneiderman, he would be waiting for the counting of the absentee ballots with about a 4300-vote lead instead of a deficit of twice
that size.

sjkotz@indyeastend.com