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Sep 26, 2018 9:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Lys Gets Minor Party Line In Write-Ins, Loses Some Ground With East Hampton's Democratic Absentees

David Lys, left, and David Gruber.    PRESS FILE
Sep 26, 2018 10:53 AM

East Hampton Town Councilman David Lys unexpectedly won a primary to be the Working Families Party candidate in the special Town Board election in November, thanks primarily to the efforts of the Town Republican Party to capture the line.

Mr. Lys was the recipient of three write-in votes in the Working Families Party primary—the only three votes cast in the rare single-candidate primary.

The party had nominated East Hampton attorney Roy Greenberg to be its candidate last spring. But the town Republicans, led by Chairman Amos Goodman, filed an “opportunity to ballot” petition that created a de facto primary: There was only one candidate on the ballot, but any Working Families Party voters who came to the polls were permitted to write in the name of whomever they chose.

Mr. Goodman said he personally contacted most of the 41 East Hampton residents registered with the party and urged them to vote for the Republican candidate, Manny Vilar. He even mailed stamps with Mr. Vilar’s name on them to the voters, in hopes of easing their efforts.

The move fell flat.

“I see no shame in missing a bank shot,” Mr. Goodman said in a message on Tuesday, after the results of the vote were released by the Suffolk County Board of Elections. “There’s only so much I can do with what I have at my disposal.”

Mr. Goodman pledged he would be pressing forward with his challenge to Mr. Lys’s filing with the Board of Elections to create a new political party line, called the Unity Party.

Mr. Lys’s filing to create the minor party, which he said was intended to give him a chance at remaining on the ballot had he lost the Democratic primary, became a point of criticism from some Democrats during the primary because the application was made with the help of party leaders who would, potentially, be supporting a challenge to the nominee chosen by the party’s voters.

The Board of Elections also opened and counted absentee ballots in that hotly contested Democratic Party primary this week. Mr. Lys lost some ground to challenger David Gruber when the more than 400 absentee ballots were opened, but still won the party’s nomination handily, with 1,757 votes to Mr. Gruber’s 1,117—slightly over 61 percent.

Nearly 39 percent of the registered Democrats in the town cast ballots in the primary, an extraordinary number in a primary, and especially so for a special off-cycle election for only a one-year term on the Town Board.

“This decisive outcome bodes well for Democrats in East Hampton and not only for David Lys but for ensuring Perry Gershon is elected to Congress,” party Chairwoman Cate Rogers said in a statement on Tuesday. “The high Democratic turnout in this primary signals a high and enthusiastic Democratic turnout in the general election, helping David get elected in November and also helping us get a Democrat elected in the First Congressional District.”

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