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Dems win local, lose top races
Streaks of blue have interjected the local and national political scenes, but it was not the upset Democrats wanted - and frankly, needed - to put a hard-stop challenge to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Gains were made in the House, where Democrats took control, despite no changes in the Long Island delegation.
Statewide elections boded well for Dems, with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, like his father did before, winning his third term. The race, where he defeated Republican Marc Molinaro, was called minutes after the polls closed. Cuomo racked 59.02 percent of the vote, with Molinaro falling in at 36.79 percent. Cuomo touted voters’ response in the election, saying it sends a message nationwide.
“Once again, New York State defines what it means to be the progressive capital of this nation,” Cuomo said.
Tish James, the Democrat running for attorney general, defeated opponent Republican Keith Wofford, collecting 61.94 percent of the vote to Wofford’s 35.69. Thomas DiNapoli won another term as state Comptroller, defeating Republican John Trichter by over 30 points. And Kirsten Gillibrand won reelection to the U.S. Senate, defeating Republican challenger Chele Chiavacci Farley by 30 points.
A tough loss came for first-time candidate Perry Gershon, who was defeated by incumbent Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley). Gershon collected 46 percent of the vote and Zeldin won with 52 percent. Almost 3,000 votes went to former county legislator Kate Browning, who was on the Women’s Equality line, but has not been campaigning and was supporting Gershon.
At the Suffolk County Democratic Committee Election Night party, Gershon was the first to speak, thanking his supporters and showing how his campaign still put up a good fight.
“We’re so much better off than we were two years ago,” he said. “We all fought hard together.”
Gershon called out Zeldin one last time before exiting the spotlight, saying the Congressman should work harder to help repeal the SALT cap passed by Congress last year. Recently, Gershon said that would be his first proposed bill if elected as a Congressman. He also said this might not be the last we see of him, but either way, he is confident the party will come back strong next time.
“We’re going to be back,” he said. “Maybe it will be me - I’m not out of this.”
Probably one of the most surprising upsets in the races across Long Island was in State Senate District 3, where Monica Martinez pulled off a win over Assemb. Dean Murray, the Republican. Martinez was initially down in the early results, but came back to hold a 2 point lead - 51 to 49 - giving her the seat.
Martinez, in tears, took the stage in apparent surprise, and said she honestly didn’t prepare a victory speech, and acknowledged that many thought she wouldn’t win this race. She made special shoutouts to her “brothers and sisters in labor” who she credited with a lot of the grassroots support in her campaign. She also acknowledged and thanked her family, including her parents, who came to the U.S. when Martinez was three, and her brother Tony Martinez, who is the Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Babylon.
“I am looking forward to protecting Suffolk County, protecting my families that work here, not just mine but all of yours,” she said. “To all our children, to all our teachers, all our labor sisters and brothers, to our women, I promise to be your voice in Albany.”
Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer said, “Monica’s got a great reputation as a county legislator and for her constituent service made her a strong senate candidate. Her district runs from Brentwood to Mastic and Shirley. You have a lot of people there working two jobs, making ends meet and she brought those issues to the race. I think you’ll see a lot of the issues are based on the economy.”
As for the congressional race, “it’s a big disappointment,” Schaffer said. “I think Perry improved dramatically as a candidate from a year and a half a go. I think he talked to the issues and things that matter and Zeldin’s extreme positions where as he is more moderate. Zeldin when he first started the race thought he would coast and I think the 56 to 42 percent wasn’t what he thought. We’re hoping that the conversation that was had during the campaign will get him to moderate. Like he said, we have differences of opinion and have to respect each other.”
While the Democrats had a winner in Liuba Grechen Shirley in Suffolk County, she lost in Nassau, and ultimately the race, to Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) as her district is split, by about 19,000 votes. “The last time we came that close was in 2008,” Schaffer said. “She raised a ton of money, had people knocking on doors, a lot just home grown volunteers and got a lot of energy going. The presidential year is even bigger and that’s the time to challenge incumbents if she’s up for it.”
Democrats lost in all Assembly races covered under the Advance. In the 3rd District, Republican Joe DeStefano of Medford defeated Clyde Parker of Bellport with a 10 point spread.
The wins in the State Senate give control over to the Democrats, who now have control over the Senate, Assembly, Governorship, Attorney General, and Comptroller. Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) is the favorite to become majority leader, and would be the State Senate’s first female in that position. It is just the third time since the 1940’s that Democrats have controlled the Senate.
-Linda Leuzzi contributed to this story.
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