Republicans appear poised to unseat three Democratic New York State senators from Long Island and may have won two local open seats, but party officials say the races are too close to call since absentee ballots have yet to be counted.
GOP challengers leading incumbents include Huntington Town Councilman Edmund Smyth over state Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport), Hempstead Town Councilman Dennis Dunne over state Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), and former Islip Town Tax Receiver Alexis Weik over state Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), according to unofficial early returns from the state Board of Elections.
“I believe at the end of the day we will re-elect Kevin Thomas, I’m just not prepared to declare it,” Jay Jacobs, who chairs the Nassau County and state Democratic parties, told party faithful during an election night watch party.
He said the same for Gaughran and later told the Press that he believes the Martinez race is too close to call. Jacobs also put in the to-be-determined category a pair of races for vacant state Senate seats in Suffolk County in which GOP candidates are also leading.
In the second Senate District to replace retired state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), the former GOP minority leader, Republican Mario Mattera, a plumbers union official, leads Democrat Michael Siderakis, a former state trooper and police union official. And in the first Senate District race to replace retiring state Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), New York State Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) leads Democrat Laura Ahearn, the executive director of the nonprofit Parents For Megan’s Law and The Crime Victims Center.
LI’s re-elected incumbent senators were state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), state Sen. John Brooks (D-Massapequa), and state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore).
“It is really gratifying to have the voters of the South Shore send me back,” Kaminski said.
Since there was an unusually large amount of absentee ballots cast this Election Day due to the coronavirus pandemic, the unofficial early returns may not give a clear indicator of who won. Elections officials are expected to begin counting paper ballots a week after the election. Final results may take a few weeks.
All nine LI state Senate seats were solidly Republican not long ago. They were dubbed The Long Island Nine. Two years ago, the GOP held just three of those seats and Jacobs dubbed a new Democratic group elected in 2018 “The Long Island Six.” How many of the six will return to Albany when the new legislative session starts in January remains to be seen.
Despite the uncertainty, Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said her party maintains control of the chamber. State Senate GOP Minority Leader Robb Ortt (R-Lockport) reportedly projected the new split will be 27-29.
“Despite a difficult night for many Democratic candidates throughout the state and nation, the Senate Democratic Conference comfortably retained our majority and will be welcoming a historic group of new upstate Democrats to the Senate,” Stewart-Cousins said. “With the record high number of outstanding absentee ballots that are overwhelmingly Democratic, we will add even more victories to our majority as the vote counts continue.”
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