By Christian Falcone
Now that John Verni’s Independence primary victory is certified and official, the Republican candidate turns a confident eye toward November.
Verni, a New Rochelle native in the midst of moving to Mamaroneck, has defeated his Democratic opponent in the race for the District 7 county legislator seat, Rye City Councilwoman Catherine Parker, for the right to carry the Independence Party line in the general election in November.
“I’m happy to have the line and have a broad base of support,” Verni said.
Verni said winning the Independence line—the county’s third largest political party—gives him added confidence heading into the heart of the campaign, as he will now appear on the ballot as the candidate of three parties.
Verni, a real estate developer and attorney, was also endorsed by the county Conservative Party and will appear on that line on the ballot, as well.
“I think it’s important because, in this district, it has been hard for Republicans to win without the Independence line,” he said.
Republicans face a registration disadvantage of more than 100,000 voters in Westchester County, so the ability to carry the Independence line in the general election is considered crucial for GOP candidates.
Meanwhile, the news also proves to be another hurdle to overcome for Parker who, after being anointed as County Legislator Judy Myers’ successor back in May, has faced several obstacles in her run.
Over the summer, Parker received the endorsement from county Independence Party leaders, but Verni petitioned for it and mounted a successful write-in challenge triggering the Sept. 10 primary.
Although he was able to access a primary election for the Independence line, Verni faced an additional challenge at the polls as his supporters had to write his name in on the ballot. Parker, as the officially endorsed candidate, was the only name printed on the ballot.
According to final tallies by the Westchester County Board of Elections, Councilwoman Parker amassed 34 votes, while Verni was able to garner 61 votes.
Verni’s Independence win could prove a springboard for him as, according to filings with the state Board of Elections, he has more than $22,000 in his campaign war chest. Conversely, Parker has roughly $3,200 after spending nearly $8,000 on her tightly-contested Democratic primary against Mamaroneck’s Tom Murphy.
Parker concentrated her energies on outlasting Murphy’s candidacy to secure the Democratic nomination instead of focusing her efforts on the third-party Independence line. She beat Murphy by approximately 100 votes.
“While disappointed that not enough focus was given to getting out the vote for the Independence primary to ensure that I held the line,” Parker said, “I, nevertheless believe I will win in November.”
Meanwhile, Verni is optimistic following the primary win.
“Certainly, the distraction of the Democratic primary has helped my campaign,” he said. “But I can’t really worry about the Democratic campaign. I’m worried about my own [campaign] and I think I’m very well positioned for the
Westchester’s seventh legislative district includes the entire Town of Mamaroneck and Rye City as well as portions of New Rochelle and Harrison. Myers has held the seat, which is considered a Democratic stronghold, since 2005, and the seat has been in Democratic hands dating back to 1992 when state Sen. George Latimer, a Rye Democrat, was in county office.