constitutional convention
The New York State Capitol Building in Albany.

Democrats unseated three Republican New York State Senators on Long Island and picked up a fourth LI State Senate seat previously held by a Republican, likely flipping the balance of power from GOP to Democratic control in the state’s upper legislative chamber, according to unofficial early returns from the state Board of Elections.

In a rematch of a razor-thin 2016 race, Democratic Suffolk County Water Authority Chairman James Gaughran unseated 23-year incumbent state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) 54 to 43 percent, results show. Democratic Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan ousted freshman state Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) 53 to 44 percent, results show. And 29-year-incumbent Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) is two percentage points behind Democratic challenger Kevin Thomas, who declared victory.

In Suffolk, Suffolk County Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) beat State Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) 50 to 47 percent in the race to replace retiring state Sen. Tom Croci (R-Bohemia) in the 3rd Senate District. 

“This is an historic night in New York State,” Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs told supporters.

It is the first time in a decade that the Democrats may control the state Senate, where Republicans have long been the lone check on Democratic power in state government. The GOP’s current one-vote majority hinges on a lone Democratic senator that votes with the Republicans. Before that, a since-ousted faction called the Independent Democratic Conference voted with Republicans to give the GOP a majority.

It’s a stunning development considering  all nine LI state Senate seats were solidly Republican not long ago. Now, the GOP holds just three of those seats.

“Today, voters braved the rain and came out across the North Shore of Long Island and I’m honored that they chose me, a Jewish refugee from Iran, to be their next State Senator,” Kaplan said. “We now have an important responsibility to protect Long Island taxpayers, protect women’s reproductive health rights and do more to end the scourge of gun violence. I look forward to the opportunity to getting to work for all Long Islanders and New Yorkers.”

The other five members of Long Island’s State Senate delegation, including New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport), were all re-elected.

“New York voters spoke loud and clear today as they shifted the power in the New York State Senate,” said Long Island Progressive Coalition Director Lisa Tyson. “For decades the NYS Republican Senate have blocked reforms that would improve people’s lives. We have new leadership in the Senate that must stand up and fight for progressive changes throughout the state.”

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.