State Sen. Kevin Thomas, at podium, speaks at a news conference after Election Day. L to R are James Gaughran, Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, state Sen. John Brooks (D-Massapequa) and Anna Kaplan. (Long Island Press photo)

New York State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) won a second term over his Republican challenger Monday when absentee ballots put him in the lead after he was initially trailing his rival on election night.

Hempstead Town Councilman Dennis Dunne, a Republican, led Thomas by more than 3,000 votes in the unofficial early returns in the hours after the polls closed, but the incumbent was up more than 1,400 votes on Monday as Nassau County elections officials began counting the absentee ballots. 

“I am deeply honored to be re-elected by the residents of the 6th Senate District,” Thomas said. “Following a very close election in 2018, I am thrilled to have won a larger margin this year, and I know that is because of my hard work fighting for this community, Long Island, and all of New York State. I look forward to continuing my efforts to build a stronger, fairer, more prosperous Long Island and New York State, and I thank the voters for their support.”

Thomas, the first Indian-American state lawmaker in New York who unseated 29-year incumbent Kemp Hannon two years ago, was one of several Democrats who appeared to be losing close contests on Election Day but were waiting for elections officials to tally the unusually large amount of absentee ballots mailed in due to the coronavirus pandemic. A handful of other close local state Senate races also hinge on absentee ballots.

Thomas, one of the so-called Long Island Six, a bloc of Democratic state senators from the region, was pivotal in helping flip the balance of power in the chamber from Republican to Democratic leadership in 2018.

Dunne’s campaign was not immediately available for comment, but issued a statement to Newsday conceding the race because the party affiliation of thousands of voters’ absentee ballots yet to be counted favor Thomas. 

Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), who had a slim lead over Republican rival Dave Franklin on election night, said Franklin also conceded the race Tuesday.

Related Story: Possible Upsets Eyed In Long Island State Senate Races

Related Story: GOP May Have Made Gains In Long Island Assembly Races

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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.