By CHRIS GRAMUGLIA
Even without the endorsement of Westchester County Independence Party Chairman Giulio “Doc” Cavallo, County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, was able to get enough signatures from within the party to trigger a primary against his opponent, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, a Democrat. The signatures were obtained from registered members of the Independence Party, providing the county executive an opportunity to ballot against Bramson.
Bill O’Reilly, campaign spokesperson for the Astorino campaign, said that, despite getting the petitions, winning the primary still won’t be easy.
“It’s still an uphill battle,” O’Reilly said. “Write-in primaries are notoriously difficult, but there will be a primary, thanks to a lot of political independents knocking on doors for the county executive.”
According to O’Reilly, Astorino was able to collect 2,718 signatures. According to the county Board of Elections only 1,183 signatures were needed to trigger a September primary.
Barry Caro, spokesperson for Bramson’s campaign, said that Astorino’s ability to gather support in the Independence Party should not come as a surprise because the county executive has been working toward that goal for
“Obviously, Rob Astorino has been preparing for this possibility for four years,” Caro said. “He’s been making a concerted effort to try and force the primary, and now that there will be one, we are going to try to win it.”
Caro also said that Astorino has made attempts at getting Republican supporters to change their party registration to become affiliated with the Independence Party.
Astorino received the Independence Party’s endorsement when he ran for county executive in 2009, but, after his election, Astorino said Cavallo asked him to grant jobs to those close to him in the Independence Party. Astorino said he refused, and representatives from his campaign have said that Cavallo’s decision to endorse Bramson was done vengefully in response to his unwillingness to comply with such requests.
The Independence Party is the third-largest party in the county, with 22,132 registered members, trailing the Democrats—who have 250,232 registered voters—and Republicans—who have 132,460.
No Republican candidate for county executive has won the seat without the support of the Independence Party in 20 years, making the upcoming primary between Astorino and Bramson an important one for the county executive.
The last Republican county executive candidate to win the election without running on the Independence Party line was Andrew O’Rourke.
The Independence primary is scheduled
for Sept. 10.