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Feb 27, 2013 9:06 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

GOP and Throne-Holst Talk, But Cross-Endorsement Is Not On The Table

Feb 27, 2013 10:28 AM

Despite three years of a chilly standoff, interspersed with sometimes super-heated confrontation, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst has apparently been talking campaign strategy with the leader of her political opponents.

Ms. Throne-Holst confirmed this week that she met with Southampton Town Republican Party Chairman William Wright on Monday to discuss the coming election campaign. The town supervisor, an Independence Party member who has been endorsed by the Democrats in all three of her successful Town Board elections, said it was not her own candidacy—or the possibility of an unheard-of cross-endorsement from the GOP—that was on the table for discussion.

Mr. Wright, concurred, saying that his party plans to run its own supervisor candidate, as yet unidentified, in the hope of unseating Ms. Throne-Holst in her bid for what would be her final term in the supervisor’s office. He said that nothing is entirely off the table, but that he did not foresee another single-candidate supervisor’s race.

So what was the topic of discussion, if not Ms. Throne-Holst’s own future? The supervisor says it was merely a business-friendly discussion of what the race might look like in general, about what policy ideas might come up during the campaign, and what issues facing the town will be the marquee topics for debate.

“We talked about the council race, we talked about the highway race, we talked about a lot of things that we both think are important issues for the town,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “I think it is very much in the proper spirit of public service that Bill Wright and I should have open lines of communication for addressing concerns that we all have about how to best serve the public and the taxpayers.”

But Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor believes her mention of the highway race specifically was telling. The topic of discussion, he said, was less likely conscientious cooperation as it was strategizing—or compromising—on a way to unseat him in November.

“She wants to get rid of the position, she wants to get rid of me,” Mr. Gregor, who has had public disagreements with Ms. Throne-Holst and other Town Board members, said on Tuesday. “She’s playing politics. The room is only big enough for one person in her mind.”

Mr. Gregor said that he has been told by friends and other officials that Ms. Throne-Holst was leading an effort to identify and rally support behind a challenger to his seat as the head of the Highway Department. According to those same informants, Mr. Gregor said, Hampton Bays resident Chris Garvey is being groomed to challenge him for his seat. Mr. Garvey’s daughter, Jennifer, is Ms. Throne-Holst’s chief legislative aide. Mr. Garvey ran unsuccessfully for Town Trustees in 2009 on the Independence and Democratic party lines.

Mr. Gregor said he suspects that whoever emerges as the challenger to his seat will get the nod from the GOP and could even get the Democratic Party endorsement as well if the forces aligned against him have enough sway.

Ms. Throne-Holst would not comment on whether Mr. Garvey was being considered as a candidate and said she and Mr. Wright did not discuss him as a candidate. In response to Mr. Gregor’s accusation, she said, simply, “Bill Wright and I met yesterday and we talked about a number of things.”

Mr. Garvey could not be reached for comment.

Democratic Party Chairman Gordon Herr said that during his tenure, the leadership of the Democratic Party and Republican Party have always had a friendly and cooperative rivalry, and that cross-endorsements of candidates are not out of the question.

One-time political allies, Ms. Throne-Holst and Mr. Gregor have butted heads on numerous occasions during Mr. Gregor’s four-year tenure, primarily over budget and staffing cuts forced upon the Highway Department by the fiscally conscious agenda Ms. Throne-Holst has pursued since taking over as supervisor in 2009—part of the same Independence-Democratic wave that carried Mr. Gregor and Trustee Bill Pell, both Independence Party members, into office.

Even as Ms. Throne-Holst has at times praised Mr. Gregor’s work during the recovery from Hurricane Sandy last fall, new conflicts over budgeting and assignment of duties arose following this month’s blizzard and has put the two at odds once again. Also earlier this month, Ms. Throne-Holst and other board members passed a solely symbolic resolution imploring Mr. Gregor not to move forward with plans for roadwork in Noyac, despite years of planning and discussion.

There are, of course, no actual challengers in place for any incumbent elected official. With election day still more than eight months away, Mr. Wright said this week that his party does not intend to start screening candidates until April. Two of those expected to be in the mix for the GOP’s lines for Town Board, Cornelius Kelly and Jeff Mansfield, have each been regularly attending Town Board meetings and work sessions.

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To the Editor:
I believe you have some incorrect above. The article states that this will be Anna Throne-Holst's last term. I believe the supervisor has a total of 8 years and is entitled to 4 terms in office. Anna has served 2 terms thus far. Also, she took office in January 2010 not 2009 as stated above.
Not sure but I think I am correct
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Feb 27, 13 6:51 PM
Well, well. This is like a game of clue... Prof Plum, in the library with the lead pipe. ATH, I really hope that you did not make the choice of, "If you can't beat them, join them." If rumors of a meeting with Edward Walsh, head of the Suffolk County Conservative party start to circulate this woud be interesting as well as telling. A hat trick of endorsements would put you in line with DA Spota & Clerk Pascale. Read the fine print before you sell your soul.
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Feb 27, 13 11:40 PM
Just a note to Jim Malone/Ed Walsh, William Wright & Gordon Herr - This cross endorsement stuff is garbage. You are corrupting our democracy and basically appointing people to positions. It is not an election when you only have one choice. If your party doesn't have a qualified candidate then fix your party because you should have many qualified candidates in it. Also, the idea that primaries are bad is bogus too, make your candidates compete and it becomes a natural vetting process.
To all ...more
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Feb 28, 13 8:25 AM
Do you really think she cares? You can be sure that Malone, Walsh, and Herr don't, and Wright is still out looking for his first clue.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 28, 13 10:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
A re(?)reading of Goethe's Faust might indeed be in order for the Supervisorissima, as well as, perhaps, The Portrait of Dorian Gray. As she slinks from back room to back room, ATH puts me to mind of Silvio Berlusconi: The desperate clinging to youth, the snug tailoring, the ruthless cunning of the small town Mafia boss. It never ceases to baffle me how the Democrats cling to this tarnished provincial upstart when Bridget Fleming could win a clean victory in ten seconds. Or has a deal been already ...more
By rabblerouser (46), Hampton Bays on Feb 28, 13 8:27 AM

Until one has a clean sweep of the hackish People running the Democratic Party who totally have no pride, of believing it is not part of their jobs to develop new highly qualified people for public service, we are going to have the outrage of never having a choice.

It is run like a NAZI Party where people who do 90% of the work getting people elected have absolutely no say as to whom they will be devoting hundreds of unpaid hours working for. They don't even want to hear about primaries ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Mar 1, 13 3:49 AM
I do not know the inner workings of the parties but would not be surprised about how similar they are. This cross endorsement baloney does nothing except help keep patronage alive and well. Deals are made and people behind the scenes decide who will be elected since are candidates are on every line.
By OU812 (161), East Quogue on Mar 2, 13 11:01 PM
1 member liked this comment