Republican Bruce Blakeman declared victory Tuesday night over Democratic incumbent Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who said she is waiting until absentee ballots are counted.

Blakeman, a Hempstead Town Councilman and former presiding officer of the county legislature, had 52% of the vote, or a lead of more than 11,000 votes over Curran, who had 47%, according to the unofficial early returns tallied by the Nassau Board of Elections.

“We went against a very, very popular, well-funded incumbent and we’re in a great position right now,” Blakeman told cheering supporters at The Coral House in Baldwin, where the Nassau GOP held its election night watch party. 

If Blakeman’s lead holds, it would cap a wave of GOP wins across Nassau and Suffolk counites. Republicans declared victory in both county district attorney races, the Nassau comptroller’s contest, multiple county legislative seats and town-level elections.

But Curran said not so fast.

“There are many thousands of absentee ballots that still must be counted, with more coming in,” Curran said in a statement. “This is not over and we must trust the process. Every Nassau resident who participated in this election is owed the opportunity to have their voice heard.”

As usual in Nassau, chief among the campaign issues was the property tax assessment system that has plagued county finances for decades, contributing to billions in debt and the New York State-appointed Nassau Interim Finance Authority’s oversight since 2000.

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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.