Though officially the race is still too-close-to call, it appears Linda Kabot's effort to be placed on the Conservative Party line is going to be successful.
Two Southampton Conservative Party leaders endorsed Phil Keith for the position of Town Supervisor, setting the stage for a primary on September 10. There were no names on the ballot, only a write-in space.
In the end, both sides agreed Kabot prevailed a single vote, 73-72, though six of Kabot's votes were challenged by the Keith camp. Onlookers all agreed the ballots in question were meant to be Kabot votes but were spelled incorrectly.
Keith, a retired U.S. naval commander, author, Harvard graduate, and is a member of the Southampton Town Planning Board, called on the Conservative Party to drop its challenge last week, but sources said one of the commissioners, Anita Katz, had already ruled to allow them. Wayne Rogers, the other commissioner, is set to make his decision Monday but Kabot is expected to be certified nonetheless.
"I won by a vote. It shows every vote counts," she said. "Every vote should count, despite the misspellings, what matters is the intent of the voter."
The primary was a culmination of two months of infighting between party leaders and Kabot.
Howard H. Heckman III was originally named by Town Conservative Party boss Jim Malone to run for supervisor on the party line. Suffolk County Conservative Party boss Ed Walsh had previously blocked Kabot's attempt to get on the Conservative Party line by refusing to file what is known as a "Wilson Pakula" authorization – because Kabot is not a registered party member, she needed the authorization to appear on ballot.
But Kabot was holding all the right cards. First she challenged Heckman's petitions and he was thrown off the ballot. Then she filed an "Opportunity to Ballot" petition, which was granted, allowing her to run as a write-in candidate. Malone challenged that decision but lost. Kabot, a former town board member and supervisor, is a proven vote getter. Conservative Party Vice Chair Jeremy Brandt could not be reached for comment by press time.