Responding to a move by some East Hampton Republicans to get him on their ticket for town supervisor via a write-in G.O.P. primary, Larry Cantwell said this week that he was not interested.
“I am filing a candidate declination form with the Suffolk County Board of Elections for the Republican primary on Sept. 10 in order to make clear that I am not a candidate in this primary election,” Mr. Cantwell said in a statement issued on Tuesday, adding that he did not want “Republican voters who may cast a vote in the primary to be misled.”
“The effort to promote my candidacy has not been authorized by me; in fact no one even asked me if I would agree to accept,” he wrote.
Republican leaders had asked the former village administrator, who is already running on the Democratic, Independence, and Working Families Party lines, to screen with them in the spring after Jay Schneiderman announced that he would seek a final term as county legislator rather than run for town supervisor as the G.O.P. had hoped. “I politely declined because I honestly believed the voters of East Hampton deserve a choice in the election for supervisor,” Mr. Cantwell said in the release.
With no chosen candidate for the spot, Republican Party members mounted a successful petition drive to force a write-in primary in hopes that Mr. Cantwell would accept the nomination of the Republican rank and file, if not the leadership. Republicans will already be going to the polls that day to select district attorney and sheriff candidates. The person with the most votes — even if that is just one — can win the nomination, but he or she does not have to accept it.
“I don’t know of any politician who honestly seeks to have an opponent to discuss the issues. . . . That’s clearly not the case here,” said Thomas Knobel, the vice chairman of the East Hampton G.O.P., who has urged Republicans to support Mr. Cantwell on primary day.
“The real issue is the unity campaign that he has propounded in the past, contrasted with his refusal to work with the Republicans,” Mr. Knobel said yesterday. “A pre-emptive declination clearly says that’s not so,” and it may have no legal bearing. “Republicans can test Larry out on this, and say, ‘Hey do you really mean it when you say you’re going to be supervisor for all of us?’ ”
“The Democrats claimed Carole Brennan [town clerk] and Steve Lynch [highway superintendent] after our nomination without a blink of the eye,” said Mr. Knobel.
Mr. Cantwell said that appearing on the Republican ticket along with the town board candidates Fred Overton and Dominick Stanzione might also call into question his “enthusiastic support” for his running mates, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Job Potter. He is sharing the Independence ticket with Mr. Overton and Mr. Stanzione.
Those who might not want to vote for him on the Democratic line have two other options, Mr. Cantwell noted. “I hope the participants in the write-in primary for supervisor will choose a candidate so an honest debate of the serious issues our town faces can occur.”
With or without an opponent in November, Mr. Cantwell promised that “my style of governing, of building consensus, and seeking compromise that leaves everyone well-served will be the same.”