Suffolk Conservatives, whose ballot line can draw as much as 12 to 13 percent of the vote on Election Day, have endorsed Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini for district attorney this fall, county party chairman Frank Tinari said late Sunday.
The party’s 60-member executive committee came to its decision in the past four days of conference calls with town leaders and other party officials. Tinari said there were “many highly qualified candidates,” but after “an exhaustive review,” the executive committee “has chosen to endorse Tim Sini. We believe he is the best candidate to address the issues facing the citizens of Suffolk County.”
While incumbent Democratic District Attorney Thomas Spota, who is retiring, had major and minor party cross-endorsements, including from the Conservatives, in his last three elections, Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said it is the first time the Democratic nominee has ever received the party’s endorsement in a contested district attorney race.
Republicans are expected to designate Ray Perini, of Huntington, former head of the Suffolk DA’s narcotics bureau and now a defense attorney, as the GOP candidate at their party convention Monday night. Another GOP contender, William Ferris of Southold, has said he will challenge Perini in a primary.
Tony Pancella, the Suffolk GOP’s first vice chairman, declined to comment Sunday night on the Conservative’s endorsement. John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman, and Perini did not return calls for comment.
“How important is it? On a scale of one to ten, this is a twelve.” Schaffer said. “It’s worth the eight months of discussions we’ve had with the Conservatives.”
Sini was one of 15 contenders who screened with Conservative Party officials in February. He met again with Tinari on Friday, a day after Schaffer met with Tinari and several other high party officials at the Peter Pan Diner in West Islip.
Sini declined to comment Sunday night, but his campaign spokesman, David Kelley, said: “This campaign is not so much about politics as it is restoring professionalism and integrity” to the DA’s office.
“If they want to jump on that wagon, we’re delighted to have them,” Kelley said.
Both Tinari and Schaffer said the party’s decision does not include an agreement for Democrats to back the Conservative’s Suffolk County sheriff candidate, State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), who is also expected to be nominated Monday night at the GOP convention.
Schaffer, however, said he is “open” to the idea, even though Democrats will circulate petitions for retired NYPD Officer Dan Caroleo of North Babylon. However, GOP bylaws, adopted two years ago, bar Republican candidates from taking the Democratic line in nonjudicial races.
While Conservatives are backing Sini, Tinari emphasized the bulk of his party’s cross-endorsements back Republicans in other town and county races. Tinari said the majority of his executive committee backed Sini, but he declined to detail the exact vote. However, Tinari said he does not expect a primary challenging the decision.
“Everyone was satisfied and anxious to move forward with his candidacy,” Tinari said. However, he added, “We’re prepared to handle anything that comes up.”
The Independence Party has yet to make a decision on its district attorney endorsement. However, Democratic sources said they expect Sini will meet with Frank MacKay, chairman of the state and Suffolk Independence Party, before all parties can begin circulating their nominating petitions Tuesday. The Working Families Party earlier endorsed Sini.