GOP Flips Democrat-led Suffolk Legislature

Rob Calarco
Suffolk County Presiding Officer Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue)

Republican candidates are poised to take the majority of the Suffolk County Legislature for the first time in 16 years after three Democratic legislators were unseated Tuesday.

GOP candidates are leading in 12 out of 18 Suffolk legislative races, with Democratic incumbents being ousted in at least three of those races, according to unofficial early returns tallied by the Suffolk Board of Elections.

With all precincts reporting but no absentee ballots counted yet, Presiding Officer Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) is losing his race to Republican challenger Dominick Thorne, who has 54% of the vote. Suffolk Legislators Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Susan Berland (D-Dix Hills) also appear to be losing their seats, according to unofficial early returns on Wednesday.

Democrats currently have a 10-8 majority in the county legislature. The loss of at least three seats would put Republicans in charge with an 11-9 majority. The change means Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, will have to work across party lines to get legislation and budget spending passed.

The Suffolk Legislature has a long history of enacting policies that are later enacted by the state and federal governments, including a 2000 ban on driving while talking on cell phones that was later enacted by New York State and a 2003 ban on the diet supplement ephedra, which was later adopted by the Food and Drug Administration.

The shift in the balance of power was not the only GOP gain of the night. First-term Democratic Suffolk District Attorney Tim Sini was unseated by Republican Ray Tierney. And across the county line, Republican Bruce Blakeman declared victory over Democratic Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who has not conceded, Republican Anne Donnelly won the Nassau district attorney race, and the GOP won the Nassau comptroller’s contest.

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