In the end, David Gruber’s ascension to the top of the East Hampton Town Republican Party ticket was too improbable to pass the muster of everyone concerned.
Gruber, a former Democratic Party leader, major contributor and former candidate, needed a waiver by April 16 signed by Suffolk County GOP head Jesse Garcia, but it never materialized.
“Earlier today the East Hampton Town Republican Committee learned that our efforts to secure the necessary documents, i.e. Wilson-Pakulas, for our non-Republican designated candidates, were unsuccessful,” wrote East Hampton GOP spokesman Kyle Ballou.
Gruber had seemingly won the party’s nomination at the town GOP committee’s convention last month. “No one else presented,” said Ballou. Still, he said, “There are a lot of moving parts” and implied there were some pockets of resistance to naming a Democrat such as Gruber to run for the town’s top seat.
Richard Myers of Wainscott, the original choice of the local GOP, dropped out of the race last week but as of this writing remains atop of the Conservative Party ticket. He could still withdraw from that ballot spot. Gruber, for his part, hopes to head a Fusion ticket comprised of disgruntled Democrats and should have the necessary 575 signatures shortly.
Gruber said he gathered petitions to run against incumbent Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc in a Democratic Party primary but instead decided to wait for Election Day to square off.
“I align myself closely with the Republicans on issues of local concern. I told the Democrats that two years ago.” Gruber said he didn’t plan to run himself, but when the initiative to convince Democratic Councilman Jeff Bragman to run didn’t materialize, he decide to step up, noting the unrest in town. “We have a political monopoly. They have an invitation to do anything,” he said.
The effort to build a coalition to challenge Van Scoyoc stems from what is believed his reluctance to oppose Deepwater Wind’s South Fork Wind Farm. It was initially hoped that Bragman, a newcomer to the town board, would unite the other parties and oppose Van Scoyoc.
“The bottom line is I am happy being a councilman,” Bragman said, noting that like the town supervisor he still has one vote. “I’m trying hard to be a good councilman.”
The term Wilson-Pakula waiver refers to the Wilson Pakula Act of 1947, which was written by state Senator Irwin Pakula and then-Assemblyman and future governor Malcolm Wilson, which forbids candidates from receiving the nomination of a political party if they are not registered as a member of that party, unless they receive permission to enter the primary from party officials representing a majority of the vote in the jurisdiction.
“Though disappointed, The East Hampton Town Republican Committee is not deterred in its efforts to reach across party lines, so that East Hampton Town voters have the broadest choice in selecting those who wish to serve our community first,” Ballou said.