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Jul 19, 2011 5:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Scalera Gets Independence Party Endorsement In Southampton Over Fleming

Jul 20, 2011 11:44 AM

Suffolk County Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay overruled local committees and nominated his own choices for Town Board races in both Southampton and East Hampton towns on Monday, shocking and disappointing some members of his party.

Mr. MacKay filed paperwork at the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Monday allowing Republican Town Board candidate Christine Preston Scalera to run on his party’s line, rather than incumbent Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, a Democrat who was endorsed by the party when she won a special election last year.

Ms. Fleming said on Tuesday that she had been expecting the nomination because she had heard she had been endorsed by the local branch of the party, although she never received official confirmation.

“I don’t know whether the leadership of the party overrode local decisions elsewhere, but it really looks like the leadership has really been acting as an extension of the Republican Party throughout the county,” she said.

Steve Lynch, the chairman of the Southampton Independence Party, did not return calls seeking comment.

Mr. MacKay, who lives in Rocky Point, did not answer his phone this week, and his voice mailbox was full.

In East Hampton, Mr. MacKay filed paperwork allowing Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, a Republican, to run on the Independence line, after the local branch of the party had endorsed Mr. Wilkinson’s Democratic challenger, Zachary Cohen, in May. The move shocked Elaine Jones, the chairwoman of the East Hampton Independence Party, who said she was assured by Mr. MacKay that he would follow her committee’s recommendation.

An authorization known as a Wilson Pakula is needed for a candidate who is not a member of a particular party to run on that party’s line. Mr. MacKay signed Wilson Pakulas for Ms. Scalera and Mr. Wilkinson on Monday, the deadline for the paperwork to be submitted, making it impossible for local party officials to force a primary.

Ms. Fleming is an ally of Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, a member of the Independence Party who has also been endorsed by Democrats. Ms. Throne-Holst is now in the awkward position of running alongside Ms. Scalera and Town Board candidate Brad Bender on the Independence line, and Mr. Bender and Ms. Fleming on the Democratic line.

“This is not the outcome I had hoped for, or certainly expected,” Ms. Throne-Holst wrote in an email on Tuesday. “At the very least, the opportunity for the public to weigh in through a primary process would have been in order.”

Ms. Throne-Holst said she would support Ms. Fleming and Mr. Bender. Mr. Bender, also an Independence Party member endorsed by Democrats, said he would support Ms. Throne-Holst and Ms. Fleming, solidifying the alliance.

“I expect that the Southampton Town voters will see the truth behind this puzzling action and vote for the entire Democratic Party team, including Bridget Fleming, on November 8,” Mr. Bender said in a statement Tuesday.

Ms. Scalera did not return a call seeking comment this week.

This year is not the first time the Independence officials at the county level overruled local committees. In 2009, the Southampton Independence Party endorsed Democrats Sally Pope and Ms. Fleming for Town Board, but Mr. MacKay nominated Republican Chris Nuzzi and Conservative Jim Malone instead, surprising local officials, who said they were assured the decision would be up to them.

Ms. Fleming and Ms. Pope lost the election, but Ms. Fleming went on to win a seat on the board during a special election last year, when she was endorsed by the Independence Party. Independence Party officials have credited her victory to the party’s influence.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, an Independence Party member, said he was upset to learn that Ms. Scalera was chosen over Ms. Fleming on Monday. Mr. Thiele said he and Ms. Throne-Holst both expressed their surprise to each other in a conversation on Tuesday morning.

“I’m disappointed that she was not even given the opportunity to run a primary,” Mr. Thiele said.

Ms. Fleming said she felt confident she would be reelected without the Independence Party line.

“Well, you know, I think it’s a disappointment, but it’s not devastation,” Ms. Fleming said. “It can be important, but I think Anna and I have done a very good job in the short time that I’ve been in office. I think that I’ve put forward some very effective initiatives, and people know that I’m a hard worker and care about people.”

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a Wilson-Pakula"? Only in politics.
By HSA (68), southampton on Jul 19, 11 7:31 PM
Frank MacKay's will be done. At least the Town of Southampton Independence Party didn't make the mistake of wasting time voting to endorse local candidates without Frank's imprimatur, only to see their choices cast aside by the Pontifex Maximus (as happened in East Hampton.)

Are not local Independence Party officials a tad embarrassed to find themselves worshiping at Frank's secular altar? I would be.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jul 19, 11 7:44 PM
MacKay made the right choice.
By getalife (61), Southampton on Jul 19, 11 8:30 PM
Fleming has been an asset to Southampton town, and the only Democrat. Our town needs a lot more political balance. When we have one party, in this case the Southampton GOP, controlling EVERY board, there is a major problem.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jul 19, 11 9:28 PM
3 members liked this comment
Maybe we'd get more Democrats on the Town Board if the so-called progressives in our midst didn't keep hitching their wagons to the Independence Party. Ever heard of a Faustian Pact?
By rabblerouser (46), Hampton Bays on Jul 19, 11 10:12 PM
2 members liked this comment
Or a Bananna Republic?
By rabblerouser (46), Hampton Bays on Jul 19, 11 10:17 PM
or a weak respresentative?
By HSA (68), southampton on Jul 20, 11 8:24 AM
While Ernie Wruck may have failed at finding a candidate for Supervisor, he readily outflanked his Democratic counterpart, Gordon Herr, when it came to Frank MacKay and the Indiependence Party. Ernie has now achieved his primary goal of maintaining a majority of the Town Board come next January. Perhaps if the Dems and Independence Party members Thiele and Throne-Holst had spoken to Frank and his Executive Committee they might have convinced the Indies to at least give Bridget a Wilson-Pakula ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jul 20, 11 10:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you Neil, thanks once again from many of us for stating so succinctly where we, the Dems, have gone so wrong,yet again.
Now we neeed to have you,the best election attorney out here, volunteer your time and smarts for Bridget! Meg
By margret (3), sag harbor on Jul 20, 11 2:57 PM
Meg, as the character Jules Winfield as scripted by QuentinTarantino quoting the bible liked to say before firing his gun Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jul 20, 11 3:31 PM
Oh no, Tiger, you don't get away with that righteous rubbish. You're the guy who used to "lead" the Southampton Dems, right? And under your "leadership," they started knifing each other and eating their young, right? It was like, all factions and bar fights, right? And when you stepped down, they were deep in the toilet, right? And it took maybe ten years to clean up your mess, right? And now you come around and tell the Dems -- who finally have it together a little bit -- what to do, and ...more
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Jul 20, 11 4:58 PM
Your version of history does not match the historical facts. Sorry, but whoever or where ever you got your info from, it is wrong. You want to criticize provide some dates and facts, otherwise make like a clam. You call a party that runs 2 republics, 3 independents and 1 democrat a democratic party. Sorry clam you really don't have a clue. Where was the dem leadership when it came to talking to Frank MacKay. I'll match my abilities against anyone in this town, any day, any time. You can repeat ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jul 20, 11 5:35 PM
Guess I hit home, huh? I know what went down, Tiger, I've been reading the papers here for a very long time. I don't have to produce it, though, because as you say, it's all in the back issues for anyone to see. Why don't you go ahead and tell us about all your successes? Tell us how many races your guys and gals won. Tell us how long the Dems controlled the Town Board in the Tiger Regime. I'd like to hear that.

Again being fair as always, you're right that the Dems present line-up ...more
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Jul 20, 11 6:48 PM
From Japanese さようなら (sayōnara), farewell (formal and final). Just in case you don't understand japanese.
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jul 20, 11 8:58 PM
The independence party has more in common with Republicans than it does with dems or indpendents. I find it extremely disturbing that the democratic party has only ONE actual democrat running on the ticket. The indepenDENCE party has fooled folks into believing that they are indpenDENT and the democratic party has being a wiling participant in this deceit. Fleming did not get the independence nod because she is the only true progressive in the bunch.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jul 21, 11 11:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
Now if anyone on the Dem side had any understanding of the process and the way Wilson-Pakula's are granted by only Frank and his Country Executive Committee, they would have carried Opportunity To Ballot Petitions. But I guess that's something nobody thought about or know about. Any one mention that to you Bridget? Too bad tomorrow is the last day to file those. Guess all the bright lites around here just want to bad mouth Frank and the Indie Party. Well folks if you're worried about a wilson-pakula ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jul 20, 11 7:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
politician lite.
By HSA (68), southampton on Jul 21, 11 7:53 AM
For anyone who doesn't know it already, the endorsement of the "Independence Party" this time around regrettably represents the same thing it has several times in the past. It isn't a statement of support by the members of a genuine third party with a genuine program. Instead, it's the personal choice of an autocratic chairman, Frank MacKay, a man who brings nothing to the table besides a background in the entertainment business and a lust for power and the things that power brings. He freely ...more
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Jul 24, 11 1:48 PM