In the cold light of day, it's clear that candidates who were able to earn the endorsement of the town's Conservative Party had a big advantage over their opponents in yesterday's election.
Highway Superintendent Shawn Keeler received 528 votes on the Conservative line, nearly a third of his total. Town Clerk Sherry Howard received 406 Conservative votes and Town Board incumbent Louis Luongo received 313.
These numbers are striking because there are only 202 voters in Putnam Valley who are enrolled as Conservatives.
Breaking down the numbers this way illustrates the bipartisan support these long-standing public servants enjoy in the town. Republicans who wanted to support Howard were able to do so by voting on the Conservative line rather than having to cast a vote for a Democrat. Similarly, Democrats wishing to see Luongo re-elected but who did not feel comfortable voting for a Republican could vote for him on the Conservative ticket.
The two board candidates who ran on only one line (Patty Villanova and Brooke Anderson) probably still wouldn't have won, because Luongo and Howard's support in the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively, exceeded their's. But the races would have been far closer. Villanova received just 50 fewer Republican votes than Luongo. Anderson received 153 fewer Democratic votes than Howard.
Conservative votes also helped tip the balance in the race for county legislator. Maggie Ploener received a combined 1,059 votes from the Democratic and Working Families lines, just 52 votes fewer than the 1,111 her Republican opponent William Gouldman received from his party's voters. However, the 279 votes he garnered from the Conservative line gave him a healthier margin of victory.
The Conservative Party's endorsements came as a result of a caucus of its members in July. The process was subsequently criticized for its lack of transparency and the unusual decision to support Democratic candidates rather than Republicans.
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