Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine won the race for Suffolk County executive race, declaring victory late Tuesday night to make him the first Republican to win the top-elected position on eastern Long Island in 20 years.
Romaine won 57% of the vote over Democratic candidate David Calone, who won 42%, with most of the election districts reporting, according to unofficial early returns reported by the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Calone conceded the race. Romaine will replace outgoing Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who was term limited from running for re-eletion.
“We will govern together and I will depend on all of you.” Romaine told cheering supporters at Stereo Garden in Patchogue. “You have given us a mandate. Tonight, we crushed it baby!”
His victory means Republicans will have control of the Suffolk County, comptroller’s office, clerk’s office, district attorney’s office and the legislative majority, which the GOP maintained on Election Day and grew by one seats when Chad Lennon flipped the Democrat-held sixth district and Catherine Stark did the same in the first district but Democratic challenger Rebecca Sanin unseated freshman Suffolk County Legislator Manuel Esteban (R-East Northport).
On the campaign trail, Calone and Romaine frequently agreed about many of the issues facing Suffolk, including migrants, affordable housing, child protective services, and more — but disagreed on who between the two of them was better prepared to carry out the solutions. Romaine cited his long tenure holding elected office in Suffolk and Brookhaven, while Calone focused on his record as a prosecutor, businessman and member of the Suffolk County Planning Council.
“I wish him well as the new Suffolk County executive,” Calone said. “His success will be our success.”
One of Romaine’s first orders of business will be to appoint a new police commissioner, with Commissioner Rodney Harrison expected to officially resign in December. Harrison had mentioned that he wanted to give the new county executive the freedom to appoint someone of their own choosing.
The last Republican elected Suffolk executive was Robert Gaffney, who left office in 2003. Gaffney’s successor, Steve Levy, who beat Romaine in 2003 and was re-elected in 2007 before switching from Democrat to Republican in 2010 for afailed gubernatorial bid a year before he declined to seek a third term after reaching a non-prosecution agreement with then-District Attorney Tom Spota.
Bellone congratulated Romaine and vowed to ensure a smooth transition.
“Our communities have placed their trust and confidence in him to lead our County forward,” Bellone said. “Over the last 12 years we have confronted numerous crises while working to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing this region, including water quality, public safety, economic development, housing and improving County finances. While we have made significant progress, much work remains. I pledge to do everything I can to assist the new county executive-elect and his administration as they prepare to lead on these and other critical issues.”