The main event isn’t for another eight weeks, but a preliminary bout in this year’s town elections takes place today.
Conservative voters will head to the polls to decide whether GOP incumbent Justice Rudolph Bruer or Democratic challenger Brian Hughes will appear on that party’s line in November. Mr. Bruer received the party’s nod during convention season, but Mr. Hughes filed petitions to force a runoff.
“It’s a matter of giving people a choice,” said Mr. Hughes, a Southold attorney and former prosecutor. Like Mr. Bruer, he is a registered Republican.
“The fact that he’s an incumbent should not give him a pass over a more qualified candidate,” Mr. Hughes said.
Mr. Bruer has practiced law in Southold for 40 years and was first elected town justice in 1996. He did not respond to a request to be interviewed for this story.
Under state election law, judicial candidates must limit their campaign statements to their qualifications.
Mr. Hughes is a former state assistant attorney general, a former Brooklyn district attorney bureau chief and executive assistant district attorney.
In an Aug. 11 letter to The Suffolk Times, Southold Conservative Chairman Robert Goodale said of Mr. Bruer, “His was a voice or reason and understanding of the judicial process, having been doing it for years.” The leader added that his party believes the incumbent to be “the best and most balanced person for the job.”
Firing back a week later, Southold Democratic Chairman Art Tillman wrote, “No one to my knowledge has ever run for this office having the qualifications and experience of Brian Hughes.”
There are about 400 enrolled Conservatives in Southold.