The theme of “MAGA Goes Local” is emerging across my blog posts this year. My last two posts were on the Smithtown Board of Education race and how three Trumpster challengers used lies and fear mongering to win that election. Today, I am looking at how the Republican and Conservative Parties are attacking the ballot lines of other political parties. This is playing out across New York State this year, including here in Southampton Township. Recent articles in Newsday and The Southampton Press highlighted the unethical behavior that led to these Southampton primaries.
‘The liberal Working Families Party says it’s being raided by former Republicans and Conservatives who switched their enrollment this year to the minor party and then submitted petitions to run primaries against WFP candidates, according to a Newsday review. Working Families Party members say the June primary efforts imperil their endorsed candidates in Southampton, mislead voters and drive up the public cost of holding primaries.”
“Three primary elections for town office in Southampton on Tuesday, June 22, are expected to cost taxpayers $118,000, even though it is likely that only a few hundred voters will cast ballots. The races involve the Working Families Party, where Sean McArdle, a former Conservative, and his wife, Miranda Schultz, who was formerly registered as a Republican, changed their party affiliation in January and will challenge the Working Families nominees, Robin Long and Tommy John Schiavoni, who are both Democrats. A third race pits Marc Braeger, who was formerly a Conservative, against Democrat Thomas Neely for the party’s nominee for highway superintendent.”
In an editorial in The Southampton Press, the editorial board emphasized why this behavior must be taken seriously. “It’s easy to wave this kind of skullduggery off as “just politics,” but it’s more than that. It’s the dirty kind of politics that all elections, particularly local elections — which should always put policy and character over party — should be free of. It’s nasty and petty, and it is the kind of behavior that the perpetrators should feel ashamed about, but most worrisome of all if that it undermines voters’ faith in democracy.”
Local races are often decided by a handful of votes, so a second ballot line can be the difference between winning and losing in the November general election. It is imperative that voters understand this and turn out and vote in the June 22nd primary that will set the ballot lines for November. Vote at your local polling place on Tuesday or vote early through Sunday. Early voting locations can be found at https://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/BOE/Early-Voting-Sites-6-22-2021.
To better understand the issues at play in these primaries, I turned to Robin Long, who is also quoted in these newspaper articles. Readers of The Resistance and Me will remember Robin as one of the most dedicated women I profiled in the book and a person who, throughout her pollical career, has been guided by ethics. Robin is 1st Vice Chair of the both the Southampton Town Democratic Committee (SHDems) and the Suffolk County Democratic Committee and Vice Chair of the NYS Democratic Committee. For the first time, she is running for elected office as the endorsed Democratic candidate for Town Council and is now involved, as a candidate, in the Working Family Party (WFP) primary. She is also an attorney who is well-versed in election law. The following is a lightly edited and condensed transcript of our conversation about the primary … [more]