Schneiderman to Switch Parties, Again

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman has filed paperwork to switch his political registration to Democratic. The change will not take effect until after the Nov. 7 election, in which he hopes to be re-elected on the Independence and Democratic lines.

In part, Mr. Schneiderman’s decision was prompted by a Democratic primary attempt earlier this year by Fred Havemeyer of Bridgehampton.

Mr. Havermeyer had tried to force a primary after the Southampton Town Democrats nominated Mr. Schneiderman. The effort failed because of problems with the way Mr. Havermeyer’s petition signatures were collected.

Had Mr. Schneiderman not received the Democrats’ endorsement for supervisor, he would have run on the Independence line alone, without a chance of challenging for the additional ballot spot, because a candidate can only force a primary if he or she is a registered member of that party.

This is not the first time Mr. Schneiderman has changed his political affiliation.

“I started out as a Democrat,” he said this week, though he was never elected as one. While an appointed member of the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, he changed his voter registration to nonaffiliated. He ran against Cathy Lester for East Hampton Town supervisor without being registered with any party but with Republican support. He later registered as a Republican. 

During his tenure in the Suffolk Legislature, to which he was elected after two terms as East Hampton Town supervisor, he switched to the Independence Party. While he won as legislator with Independence backing several times, and as Southampton Town supervisor two years ago, his cross-endorsements helped.

He said he was unwilling any longer to take the potential risk Independence Party candidates faced. “You need a major party line. It’s virtually impossible to win on just a third party line,” he said. 

“You’re more vulnerable and more dependent upon the major party when you’re not a part of it,” he said.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., the chairman of the Southampton Town Independence Party, said, “This isn’t unusual when individuals want to run for higher office. I think they believe there is a need to be a member of a major party.” 

Mr. Schneiderman said his focus is on this year’s supervisor race against Ray Overton of Westhampton, the Southampton G.O.P.’s candidate, and on continuing his work leading Southampton Town, not on any future race in Southampton or elsewhere.