Zeldin voted into third term; DeStefano wins big
Incumbent Lee Zeldin (R, C, I-Shirley) was officially re-elected to his third term in the NY 1st Congressional District, winning against his democratic opponent Perry Gershon by a 6 percent margin.
Though totals are not final, awaiting final absentee ballot counts, Zeldin took home 130,919 votes with over 52 percent of the vote while Gershon took 115,795, over 46 percent of the vote. Kate Browning, who ran on the Women’s Equality line, received just over 1 percent of the vote, urging voters instead to vote for Gershon.
“They went to Wall Street and found some guy that had millions of dollars trying to buy our seat but this isn’t Texas hold ‘em this is New York representation,” said Suffolk County Republican chairman John Jay LaValle to a screaming crowd during the official GOP election party held at the Stereo Garden in Patchogue on Tuesday night. “Each and every time he was called upon he stepped up. He stepped up for his community and he stepped up for his country. While his opponent was on Wall Street making millions he was serving his country.”
Zeldin briefly took the stage celebrating his victory thanking his family staff and Republican Party.
“This is really important and needs to be said,” he said addressing the crowd. “Our country needs to do a much better job at uniting. We encourage disagreement and we encourage debate- that’s the American way. But we also need to make sure we settle our scores at the ballot box,” he added, promising to serve both those who did and did not vote for him.
On Election Day, Zeldin arrived with wife, Diana and twin daughters Arianna and Mikayla at 7:15 a.m. at the Mastic Beach Fire Department which was already witnessing a large turnout.
Zeldin was philosophical in his comments, encouraging political disagreements but in the best way, saying, “there’s a need for unity in this country.”
“The American people spoke today,” he said as voters kept pouring in. “Whether it’s the East End of Long Island or the West Coast, we need to do a better job tackling the issues.”
He was asked to pinpoint initiatives he would delve into right away. “Whether it’s getting the rest of the Moriches inlet dredged or negotiating an arms treaty for Russia, there’s a lot to concentrate on,” he added.
Also, celebrating his victory for the first time was Republican Joe DeStefano, a longtime firefighter and Medford resident. DeStefano took NYS Assemb. Dean Murray’s (R) vacated seat in the third Assembly district with over 54 percent of the vote totaling 19,850 votes. His democratic opponent Clyde Parker of Bellport took just over 45 percent of the vote with 16,556 votes.
“It was an overwhelming victory but he still doesn’t think he won. He’s waiting for 100 percent of the votes to come in,” said LaValle joking. “But you are the man who’s going to Albany.”
“He runs into buildings, saves lives and now he’s going up to save us in Albany,” added Brookhaven Town Republican Committee chairman Jesse Garcia.
“I am so very humbled by this whole experience. I cannot thank my supporters enough. Your unwavering dedication and help with the campaign have made this possible,” DeStefano said. “I would also like to thank my opponent, Clyde Parker for putting on a fair and well-fought race. At the end of the day, we all want what’s best for the 3rd Assembly District, and I promise to bring that same attitude every day with me to Albany and throughout the district.”
Assemb. Dean Murray (R, C, I-East Patchogue) didn’t face the same fate, losing to his Democratic opponent Monica Martinez by a close margin of two percent for NYS Sen. Tom Croci’s vacated 3rd district seat. Murray thanked his volunteers and family in his concession speech.
“We may have fallen a little bit short but we have a lot to be proud of,” he said.
“It was a tough year for the state senate,” said Garcia referencing the first time Dems took control in decades. “But Dean made it a close race.”
Murray stopped to help a constituent who was in the wrong polling location while voting with his wife Amy at Verne Critz Elementary School. Murray began stumping this summer; his door-to-door effort was ratcheted up the last three or four months, he said.
In spite of starting Election Day with an attempted break-in at Town Republican Headquarters, Jesse Garcia said his party was confident going into Election Day that Zeldin would win. With Murray, the upset wasn’t a surprise, he said. He called this year’s election “a state senatorial blue wave on Long Island.”
Overall, Garcia said Brookhaven Town had a great night in a democratic year, including a congressman and three judges in the 6th district court, all locals; John Andrews, Garret Swenson and James Palladino and in the 7th Assembly District, Republican Andrew Garbarino, who won re-election against Democrat challenger Thomas Murray.
-Linda Leuzzi contributed to this story.
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