September 26, 2007
Southampton Town residents are still reeling from what some call the most "shocking" primary outcome in election history.
And now, an even more dramatic announcement may soon rock the 2007 election season. The Independent has learned that Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney, who still has a chance on the ballot on the Conservative Line, has been asked to stand down and concede the 2007 race for supervisor, so that the GOP throw all its support behind primary winner Linda Kabot.
Last week, three-term Republican incumbent Heaney, who has won past elections by wide margins, lost a primary challenge to Kabot. Councilwoman Nancy Graboski also won her primary challenge.
On Saturday, Kabot said, "The party leaders have already asked Skip to stand down. He will continue to be asked to stand down."
Many, said Kabot, have asked, "What's next with the Republican Committee? Are they closing ranks behind you and Nancy?"
The councilwoman reminded there is a Republican Committee meeting this week. She said that after her "unexpected" win, she is elated, but focused on the upcoming election. As for the town's GOP party, she said, "The past few days have been a time for starting the healing process in order to regroup, re-structure and re-energize to move forward with the campaign."
As of press time, however, Heaney denied reports of being asked to stand down. "As of this writing, it is not true that Republican leadership has asked me to stop campaigning so that they may close ranks around one candidate," he said. "Some may push for that, others may hope for that, and others will cringe at the prospect, but thus far – no."
Heaney added that he has ordered a post-primary poll to "assess how all voters are reacting to the flukey outcome last Tuesday."
Reflecting on the primary, Heaney said that "naturally," he was "surprised by the vote. No one saw that coming, and nothing in the telephone surveys or polling indicated a problem with this race."
The supervisor said, however, that he is "an adult" and realizes that "life is not always fair." In the days since the outcome, he has "taken some time for personal reflection, analysis of data and consideration of options regarding the outcome of the primary."
And, said Heaney, there are certain facts. "At this time, I know that I am the unchallenged Conservative Party candidate and the town supervisor. If I choose to go forward, based on further considerations, that gives me a rare campaign opportunity – to present myself as the incumbent and the underdog at the same time."
He added, "Given my name will be on the ballot in a four-way race, anyway, and I am armed with sufficient financial resources and a record of achievement that all my opponents lack, many people are arguing that nothing can be lost, and everything can be gained."
The supervisor has fielded "two solid days of telephone calls" from public officials, friends and supporters "who are, to a person, dumbfounded."
Heaney said he is also "being actively courted by organized labor, and county leadership of the Conservative Party."
The supervisor said he has also retained legal representation for the recount procedure at the Suffolk County Board of Elections to examine the results of the Independence Party results. "One glaring error would reduce my opponent's count by at least 40 votes, making the rest of the recount a possible horserace." He added, "I will hope and pray for a small miracle here."
Yesterday , Marcus Stinchi, chairman of the Southampton Town Republican Party, said he was still awaiting results to learn whether James Drew or Dan Russo would win the councilman's seat on the Republican line. After the primary, results indicated the two were only 11 votes apart. As this publication went to press, there were still approximately 100 absentee ballots to count. "Without the slate really intact, I'd rather not comment right now," Stinchi said.
He added, however, that he sat down and spoke with both Heaney and Kabot separately and "had very positive conversations with them."