The East Hampton Town Republican Committee looked to a familiar face for its new leader when it elected Tom Knobel as its chairman on Dec. 11.
Mr. Knobel, a former town councilman and trustee, was the committee’s vice chairman. He will replace Kurt Kappel, who stepped down after a two-year term. Mr. Knobel previously served eight years as the G.O.P. chairman before giving up the post in 2005.
The committee will elect a vice chairman in the coming weeks, Mr. Knobel said.
“I’m stepping up to provide both continuity and consistency,” said Mr. Knobel. Although the next town election will not be until 2015, Mr. Knobel said “the big Congressional race will certainly draw a lot of attention.”
The First Congressional District seat is now held by Representative Tim Bishop, a Democrat. State Republican Senator Lee Zeldin has already announced that he will challenge the six-term incumbent in 2014. Mr. Zeldin ran against Mr. Bishop in 2008.
“We have to attempt to turn people out and alert folks to the way things should be run in Washington,” Mr. Knobel said.
Although Republicans lost their majority on the East Hampton Town Board, saw their majority shrink on the trustees, and lost the only other two contested elections, for town justice and assessor, Mr. Knobel refused to categorize the 2013 election, in which the party failed to field a supervisor candidate, as a failure.
“Our clerk candidate and highway superintendent candidate flat-out won, and we split the council race,” Mr. Knobel said, referring to Carole Brennan and Steve Lynch, Republican candidates who ran unopposed and were cross-endorsed by Democrats and the Independence Party for town clerk and highway superintendent, and Town Clerk Fred Overton, who won one of two seats on the town board.
The Republican cause was hurt when County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, a former supervisor, expressed interest in running for his old job again, but then changed his mind last spring.
“He waffled about his interest in being supervisor. He indicated he wanted it and then he didn’t,” Mr. Knobel said. “We would have loved to have a supervisor candidate. That colors the whole thing.”
The race for supervisor was further complicated when the Democratic candidate, Larry Cantwell, declined a last-minute Republican effort to cross endorse him.
“That part was interesting. I have not seen a whole lot of political candidates who refuse cross endorsements,” said Mr. Knobel.