Timothy Bolger

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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.

How Homeowners Can Get Ready Before The Next Big Storm

A carpenter measures a window for hurricane shutters as dark storm clouds gather overhead. (Photo by Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock)

Ongoing efforts to repair catastrophic wind and flood damage that Superstorm Sandy brought to Long Island six years ago this month are a lingering reminder of the region’s vulnerability to severe weather.

Many homeowners — especially those with waterfront property — have hired contractors to perform such storm-hardening work as raising houses up on posts, installing backup power generators, and upgrading to impact-resistant windows or shutters. But others simply repaired the damage done without better protecting their homes from inevitable damage the next time a major storm rolls ashore.

“We know that it’s not if, but when, a disaster will strike,” says Nicolette Louissaint, Ph.D., executive director of Healthcare Ready. “Disasters can be unpredictable and cause widespread destruction across communities, so it is essential individuals do their part and prepare as much as possible.”

Although 72 percent of Americans think natural disasters are occurring more often, fewer than a quarter have prepared their homes for severe weather, according to a study the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America released last year. Only 22 percent of Americans have a disaster response plan, 18 percent have conducted a home inventory, and 23 percent have taken action to mitigate storm damage their property, the study showed.

While the Atlantic Hurricane Season peaks in late August and early September, as Sandy showed when it hit days before Halloween, a late-season tropical cyclone is still possible, albeit less likely. After all, the season runs June 1 to November 30.

So what else can residents do to prepare their homes for a major storm beyond the oft-repeated personal-protection directives to charge mobile devices, clear yards of potential projectiles, have an evacuation plan, take out cash, and pack a storm kit for worst-case scenarios?

Insurance experts suggest residents take an inventory of valuables that could become damaged in the event of having to report a loss. This can include taking photos of those valuables. Homeowners and renters should also talk with their insurer before a storm hits in order to be clear on what types of damage are covered, as most policies do not cover flooding.

“Having flood insurance meant having one thing less to worry about,” said Rupi Prasad, who lost almost everything in Hurricane Harvey.

In addition, there are several basic steps that homeowners can take to help prevent or minimize the impact of flooding, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency suggests homeowners that live in a high-flood-risk area elevate their furnace, water heater and electric panel.

FEMA also recommends installing “check valves” to prevent floodwater from backing up into drains. And homeowners can seal walls in their basement with waterproofing compounds. But what is one to do if the next storm comes sooner than a contractor can complete such projects? Sandbagging basement doors and any other ground-level doorways during the storm event is a perfectly acceptable stop-gap measure.

And although as a coastal area LI is more likely to face flooding, as the recent tornado that touched down in Ronkonkoma showed, residents should not discount the threat of wind damage, either.

Long Island Funeral Home Uses Comfort Dog To Help Families Grieve

Kota the comfort dog with his handler outside Moloney's Hauppauge Funeral Home (Long Island Press photo)

As grief-stricken family members accept condolences and say goodbye to a loved one at Moloney’s Hauppauge Funeral Home, in walks someone unexpected to help ease their heartache: Kota the comfort dog.

The Moloney family, which runs seven funeral homes on Long Island, bills itself as the first funeral home on LI to house a certified therapy dog to help families cope with loss, although others are training pups to do the same work.

“Kota made me feel really good,” says one woman who had services for a loved one at Moloney’s. “He sat next to me the whole time. He’s really such a good dog.”

Hundreds of organizations nationwide train comfort dogs and their use at funerals is part of a new trend, according to the American Kennel Club, which oversees the Canine Good Citizen program.

Kota, a Labrador/Weimaraner mix with short black fur and yellow eyes, was rescued from a shelter in Arkansas several years ago. Impressed with his smarts and docile nature, the Moloney family signed Kota up for comfort dog training. Wantagh-based Sublime K-9 Dog Training tested Kota in May, and he passed. The funeral staff asks families if they want Kota to join them for 20 minutes during the first part of visitation.

“I’ve had people call and they’ve asked for him,” says Peter Moloney, co-owner of the funeral homes. “It brings a completely different dimension … unlike I’ve ever seen before. I’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s a very unique experience for the families.”

Therapy dogs can reduce stress for individuals of all ages, offsetting the effects of anxiety for those in mourning. Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross recalls how his former comfort dog, Cody, soothed first responders at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“We know how well it works,” Gross says. “You have a bad day, you come home and you know that your dog is gonna sense that … you’re sad, you’re stressed, and it’s like an immediate stress relief. Your blood pressure drops, you just feel better having that pet there.”

Widowed Not Alone: A Support Group Unlike The Rest

A fast-growing Long Island nonprofit aims to help widows and widowers get back on their feet (Photo by Antonio GuillemShutterstock)

After her husband unexpectedly died at age 44, Kathryn Douglas was so frustrated with Long Island widow support groups that she walked out of one and founded a group of her own.

In the 12 years since, her nondenominational nonprofit, Widowed Not Alone, has grown from a couple dozen young widows and widowers meeting at St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church in Dix Hills to a community of hundreds.

“I had no idea there was this many widows and widowers on Long Island,” says the 61-year-old semi-retired muralist from Bay Shore who volunteers for the group full time. “I try to give them hope. That there’s ways to get through this.”

It’s one of many such groups on LI, but what sets it apart is its flexibility. It allows members to join immediately, while others require a three-month waiting period after a spouse’s death.

“That’s my biggest gripe,” she says, noting that she’s taken in people a week removed from their loss. “You could be suicidal in three months.”

Although sessions end after eight weeks, unlike other bereavement groups, Widowed Not Alone members continue to meet bimonthly afterward for as long as they like.

“The continuation is one of the most important things that we do,” says Arlene Ricca, of Glen Head, who lost her husband in her 50s, joined Douglas’ group and now helps run it. “We don’t just throw them out after eight weeks and say, ‘OK, you’re on your own!’”

The group, which is geared toward young people, runs three eight-week sessions: One for those 50 and younger, another for ages 51 to 56 and a recently added group for those up to 65. Sessions run simultaneously three times annually, with the next groups starting in January. There are also sessions for children who’ve lost parents.

The group helps participants cope with trigger days such as birthdays and anniversaries. It also offers socialization and help with everything from finding trusted handymen and handywomen to babysitters.

Fifty-eight people are in the current sessions, which started in September. People have come to the group after suffering all types of loss, from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to suicide. Women have come pregnant with their late spouse’s child.

This June’s annual Widowed Not Alone fundraiser walk, “In Memory Of” at Belmont park, had 750 participants.(Photo by needleinthegrooveny.com)

“We try to cover all the ages,” says Douglas, who was 42 when her husband died and recalls her youngest member joining at age 21. “These people are still young. They’re still working and they’re still driving.”

Douglas understands loss. She met her second husband, a widower, in a bereavement group. After the couple, who each had three children, became a blended family, she lost a stepson five years ago.

Douglas vowed to create a more compassionate bereavement group than the ones she experienced, where participants shared more details than she could bear while grieving. She took as a sign the answer she got upon calling St. Matthew’s to inquire about setting up such a group.

“‘I was just praying for help with bereavement when you called,’” Douglas recalls the nun who answered the phone telling her. “I was there in five minutes.”

She now has nine helpers and five more in training, all volunteers. The group is working on outreach to ensure more people can find the group. Ricca warns that those who don’t talk about their issues are likely to face medical consequences as a result of bottling them up.

“A lot of the stress and the anxiety that goes along with the loss of a loved one takes a toll on your body,” says Ricca, who was diagnosed with irregular heartbeats known as broken-heart syndrome and was unable to work for two years after her husband’s death. “The men suffer anxiety, but women have sicknesses related to their anger.”

The group also prepares participants for how to handle the insensitive things that people sometimes say to those who’ve lost a spouse, such as, “You’re beautiful, you’ll be married again in six months” or “It’s been six months, you’re still grieving?”

Douglas notes that those who pass will always be in their surviving spouse’s heart.

“We’re not just a support group,” Ricca says. “We’re a family.”

For more information, visit widowednotalone.com

Battleground Long Island: Power In Play This Election Day

Leaders in the New York State Capitol in Albany are bracing for Election Day. (Shutterstock)

While Democrats hope to recapture a Congressional majority to block President Trump’s agenda this Election Day, Long Island could play a pivotal role in potentially flipping the Republican-led New York State Senate.

Some of LI’s nine state Senate districts are in play, experts say, casting doubt on the GOP’s current one-vote majority — control currently hinging on a lone Democratic senator that votes with the Republicans. And if six ex-members of the recently disbanded GOP-aligned Independent Democratic Conference losing September primaries amid record turnout is any indication, the predicted blue wave may wash Republicans out of state Senate leadership. It would be the first time in a decade that the Democrats controlled the state’s upper legislative chamber, where Republicans are the lone check on Democratic power in state government.

“Anyone who cares about the future of New York State should be scared to death,” State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Northport) wrote in an email to supporters shortly after the September primaries. “If the Democrat socialists running for Senate succeed in November, no one will be around to protect hard-working taxpayers. Our Senate majority has never been more important than it is today. We are the leaders and the last line of defense.”

Republicans have been reminding voters that the last time the Democrats controlled the state Senate, they enacted the unpopular MTA payroll tax. The move prompted voters to restore the GOP’s state Senate majority after two years of Democratic control.

Out of 63 state Senate seats on ballots next month, a City & State analysis pegs four as toss ups. Three are in Nassau County. Two are held by Republicans and one by a Democrat.

There’s a rematch between 23-year incumbent state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) and Democratic Suffolk County Water Authority Chairman James Gaughran, who lost by one percent in 2016. Freshman state Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) faces a challenge from Democratic Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan. And Republican Massapequa Park Village Mayor Jeff Pravato is challenging two-term state Sen. John Brooks (D-Massapequa), who’s defending a seat in a GOP-leaning district.  

In Suffolk, also closely watched is the race to replace retiring state Sen. Tom Croci (R-Bohemia). State Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) and Suffolk County Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) are facing off in the 3rd Senate District. Active Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by about 8,000 in the district, according to the state Board of Elections.

Hot-button issues likely to be debated in next year’s legislative session include proposals to legalize recreational marijuana, create single-payer health care, and codify abortion rights — especially given Democratic fears that Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court could help conservatives overturn Roe v. Wade. But Democratic leaders argue that giving their party control of the state Senate will help New York State push back on Washington, D.C.

“This is not about Democrat, Republican politics,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s seeking a third term against Republican upstate Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. “This is about who we are as a country and what we believe … And we have a different vision from Washington.”

As for Congress, the Democrats need to flip 24 seats to regain a majority in the House of Representatives and two seats to get control of the U.S. Senate. Of LI’s five congressional districts, The Cook Political Report, a nonprofit election forecaster, reports that two are competitive.

One is in the Island’s East End swing district, where two-term U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) faces Democratic businessman Perry Gershon. The other is U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) running for his 14th term against Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley, who made national headlines when the Federal Elections Commission unprecedentedly allowed her to use campaign funds to pay for child care while she’s on the trail.

But reports of Democrats having momentum on their side this cycle hasn’t dissuaded the GOP from trying to unseat Democratic incumbents. Ameer Benno, a Republican attorney challenging two-term U.S. Rep Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), says Democrats flipping the House would be unproductive.

“All they’re going to bring, if the House goes to the Democrats, is obstruction, rancor…and more of the same,” he says.

Tornado Touched Down in Ronkonkoma, Meteorologists Say

A small tornado packing 85-mph winds touched down in Ronkonkoma during a severe thunderstorm late Tuesday night, National Weather Service officials said.

The twister was rated an EF0, the lowest on the tornado-rating scale that ranks the severity of tornadoes, the agency said in its preliminary review of the event. Its path was 200 yards wide and it traveled 400 yards. No injuries were reported.

“Damage was confined largely to Iroquois Street, Seneca Street, and Ontario Street along Mohican Avenue in Ronkonkoma,” the agency said in a statement. “Numerous homes sustained damage to siding, shutters and outdoor furniture. Trees have visibly sheered tops,and at least two or three trees were downed upon cars.”

The tornado came while Long Island was under a severe thunderstorm warning. Areas north of LI were under tornado warnings, but the Island was not at the time.

The last time a tornado hit Long Island was in 2016, when another small tornado hit Mattituck, although a twister touched down in Whitestone, Queens several months ago.

And the last tornado to hit LI before the Mattituck twister was four years before that, in 2012. That tornado traveled from Great River to Lake Ronkonkoma.

Long Island Press In Review: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going

A year ago this month, the Long Island Press relaunched as a monthly news and lifestyle publication, keeping alive a proud tradition dating back 197 years — and what a year it’s been.

But informing readers of the region’s recent shake-ups or sharing entertaining interviews with hometown heroes such as Jerry Seinfeld or Christie Brinkley are just a blip on the radar compared to the nearly two centuries of LI history chronicled in the pages our predecessors published. The earliest incarnation of the newspaper, then called the Long Island Farmer, preexisted the Long Island Rail Road, the formation of which it covered.

“The great and paramount advantages resulting from railroads … in furnishing the cheapest, the safest and most expeditious mode of conveyance … are now universally known and appreciated,” the Farmer wrote in 1834, two years before the LIRR was chartered.

THE PAST

A lot has changed since then, and not just the perceived affordability and expeditiousness of riding the LIRR. When the Farmer was founded in 1821, James Monroe, the nation’s fifth president, was beginning his second term in the White House. The U.S. had just bought Florida from Spain. Missouri became the 24th state.

“Fear no man and do justice to all men,” was the paper’s motto during the Civil War.

The Farmer was also around to report on the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, LI’s first crossing into Manhattan, in 1883. Back then, there was no debate over whether Queens was really part of Long Island, since everyone from Brooklyn to Montauk needed a boat to get to the mainland. For the first 156 years of its existence, the Farmer and the Press were based out of Queens, predating the formation of Nassau County in 1899.

Since its founding, the population of LI has grown from 56,978 — slightly more than the Village of Hempstead today — to 7.5 million, or 2.8 million for those that only consider the Island to be Nassau and Suffolk. As the population grew with expansions of the LIRR, construction of additional East River crossings and, after World War II, the development of America’s first suburb, in Levittown, the Press’ coverage followed its readers east.

Among the daily Press reporters still in the media is Karl Grossman, the dean of LI print journalism, who won the coveted George Polk Award for his Press reporting on sandmine excavation, and went on to found the Press Club of Long Island, the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

“The Levon Corporation was excavating a square mile of the bluff-fronted north shore at Jamesport on the North Fork under the guise of building a deep-water port,” recalled Grossman, who is pressing on after a half century in the business. “In fact, it was a huge sand mine, a massive rape of Long Island. The sand was being barged off to Connecticut to make concrete for interstate highways being built there. The scheme was stopped. The land is now a state park.”

At its peak, the Press had a circulation of more than 445,000 in 1969. Many a Baby Boomer shares fond memories of delivering the thick broadsheet newspaper as their first job. Among them are TV news personality Geraldo Rivera, who delivered the Press as a 12-year-old Babylon resident and credits one of the paper’s carrier contests with opening up the wide world he would later cover.

“Aside from the fact that it taught me business, costs and profits, the thing that I really loved was, you got tickets to Yankee Stadium and the Steeplechase at Coney Island,” Rivera said. “So the Long Island Press really was an eye-opening experience for me. It’s still a big part of my nostalgic recollections of life on Long Island.”

But the good times didn’t last. By 1977, increased production costs, decreased advertising revenue and a healthy competition led the then-publisher, Samuel I. Newhouse, to pull the plug on the Press after 156 years in business. It was the end of an era.

THE PRESENT

Twenty-six years later, Jed Morey, whose family owned WLIR, the famed alternative rock radio station, revived the dormant title as an alternative newsweekly. Rumors flew that the Press would again go daily, although it only did so online.

A decade later, the Press reduced its publication to monthly, and a year after that, in 2014, it went digital. That is, until Victoria Schneps-Yunis and her son, Joshua Schneps, who co-own a chain of newspapers in the New York Metro area, reinvented the Press and brought it back to print last year.

Samuel Newhouse died a month after his old paper rolled off the presses. And three months after that, John Kominicki, the local journalism legend who was hired as publisher to lead the relaunch, joined Newhouse at the big newsroom in the sky.

THE FUTURE

Since then, the Press has soldiered on, informing and entertaining readers, keeping the tradition alive, and breaking news along the way. What does the future look like for the Press and its readers? Guess you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

LI PRESS AT A GLANCE

January 4, 1821: The Long Island Farmer, a weekly publication based in Jamaica, Queens, was founded by Henry C. Sleight, a Sag Harbor native who served in the War of 1812.

1831: Sleight passed the paper to Thomas Bradlee, a justice of the peace and police justice in Jamaica, who turned the paper over to Isaac F. Jones a year later.

1840: Jones transferred the publication to Charles S. Watrous. March

1849: B.H. Willis takes over from Watrous.

1860: Charles Welling becomes publisher.

1891: John C. Kennehan of Great Neck Hills buys the Farmer and makes it a daily newspaper.

1919: Kennehan’s nephew, James F. Sullivan, takes over after the publisher dies, and soon sells his interest to James F. O’Rourke.

1920: Benjamin Marvin buys the paper and changes the name to the Long Island Daily Press and Farmer.

1926: German newspaper publishers the Ridder Brothers purchase the paper, make William F. Hoffman publisher and shorten the name to the Long Island Press.

1932: The Ridders sell the Press to Samuel I. Newhouse, the founder of Advance Publications, which went on to absorb various media outlets, most notably the Condé Nast Publications magazine group.

March 25, 1977: Newhouse shuts down the Press amid declining ad revenue, increasing costs and boosted competition.

January, 2003: Jed Morey of WLIR alternative radio fame revives the title, which Newhouse had abandoned 26 years prior, and turns it into a free alternative newsweekly.

2013: The Press goes monthly and a year later, online only.

April 2017: Victoria Schneps-Yunis and her son, Joshua Schneps, acquire the Press from Morey and reinvent it as a monthly news and lifestyle publication in September of that year.

NY Wants To Hear Long Islanders’ Thoughts on Proposed Marijuana Legalization

cannabis concussions
April 20, known as '420' among marijuana enthusiasts, is a day of celebration and mass smoking of the psychoactive plant, still illegal in New York State except for those with a medical marijuana prescription.

New York State officials are inviting the public to share their thoughts on a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana during a pair of listening sessions on Long Island.

One session will be held Oct. 16 in Suffolk County and another is scheduled for Sept. 27 in Nassau County as a part of a statewide listening tour.

“As we begin the process of creating a model regulated marijuana program, it is critical that we reach communities across the state in order to hear what New Yorkers have to say,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. 

If the proposal passes the state legislature, New York would become the 10th state nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to legalize smoking recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

The governor ordered in January a multi-agency study, led by the Department of Health, to assess the impact of a regulated marijuana program in New York State. The assessment in July determined that the positive impacts outweigh the potential negatives, officials said. That led to the creation of a Regulated Marijuana Workgroup made up of experts that will review feedback received at these listening sessions.

The Nassau session will be held Sept. 27 at Hofstra University, 1000 Fulton Ave., in Hempstead, in the Student Center Amphitheater. The second will be help Oct. 16 in the Clarion Conference Center, 3845 Veterans Memorial Highway, Ronkonkoma, in the Crystal Ballroom. Both will run from 6-8 p.m.

Fall Gardeners Bring May Flowers

Sowing the seeds of spring is best done in fall.

As the fall equinox arrives with the changing colors of tree leaves, many gardeners trade their lawn mowers and hedge clippers for rakes and pumpkins, but there is still much landscaping to be done.

Just as the early bird gets the worm, the fall gardener grows more luscious plants and flowers than those that wait til spring to lay the groundwork for their garden. The last summer blooms may have since been placed in vases and the coming first frost — usually late October or early November on Long Island — means it is time to harvest the final veggies. But the weather will still be warm enough to do the outdoor work of preparing for next season — not to mention simply soak up some more backyard time before winter returns.

“The warmer fall months will lend themselves to increased attention on outdoor spaces, as homeowners look to extend the summer outdoor entertaining season and adapt their landscapes for enjoyment throughout the year,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Flowers, shrubs and trees that highlight the warm colors of the season and reach their peak blooming time in fall and winter, such as chrysanthemums — mums for short — boxwood, and maples, make for classic fall landscapes. But looking beyond the immediate change of seasons, green thumbs who that plant in fall are also following Mother Nature’s lead, similar to how most wildflowers drop their seeds come autumn. This allows the plants to take root well before spring.

“Fall-planted perennials can get acclimated, and their roots grow in the cool weather leading up to winter,” said David Salman, chief horticulturist for HighCountryGardens.com. “Root systems will start to grow again in early spring once the ground thaws — and these plants will be larger and flower more profusely than those planted later in the spring.”

So now is the time to plant it forward.

“Bulbs like tulips and daffodils need to be planted in the fall, before the ground freezes,” Heritage Farm & Garden in Muttontown says on its website. “The long, cold months that we humans dread are the perfect incubation period for these beautiful flowers — the cold temps initiate a biochemical process in the bulbs that is necessary for them to flower.”

It’s similar for trees.

“Planting trees in late summer and early fall allows the roots to get established before harsher weather conditions, like extreme heat, cold, or lack of water, can threaten their growth,” Heritage says. “The roots will be active all winter, so when spring rolls around you’ll get a beautiful tree full of leaves or flowers.”

And best of all, doing all the heaviest lifting involved in gardening is a lot less sweaty job in the crisp fall air than on a hot spring or summer day.

Trees and other greenery need to be planted in fall to allow their roots to grow during fall and winter.

Parkinson’s Walk Returns to Long Island After Hiatus

The nonprofit American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) fundraiser walk aiming to support research for a cure and help patients returns this weekend for the first time since 2014, the group announced.

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out Saturday, Sept. 22 for the 2018 Long Island Optimism Walk at Marjorie R. Post Community Park in Massapequa. The walk had nearly reached its goal of raising $60,000 last week and organizers expect a surge in donations as the event nears.

“We feel really strongly that it’s time to bring it back,” said Eloise Caggiano, Senior Director of Communication for the APDA. She added that the funds raised will go toward programs and services on LI. The group has two local centers that offer services: one at St. Catherine of Siena in Smithtown, and the other at NYIT Old Westbury.

The family friendly walk is one of 20 like it nationwide that APDA holds throughout the year. There is no fundraising quota to participate, but helping gather donations is encouraged. In addition to a one-mile walk, the event offers support and educational opportunities as well as other family-friendly fun including music, sponsor activities and refreshments.

“The Optimism Walk is an important opportunity for people impacted by PD to come together, share stories, offer support and connect,” said APDA President and CEO Leslie Chambers. “The emotional benefits of people coming together for a cause are immeasurable. And … we are learning more and more about the significant benefits of exercise for people with PD, so what better way to support APDA and each other than by getting out there and walking!”

Registration is free for all participants. Online registration is strongly encouraged. For more information, visit apdaparkinson.org or contact Laura Higgins at 917-829-1027 or NYwalk@apdaparkinson.org

No dogs are allowed in the park.

Newcomer Raynor Declares Victory Over Deputy Speaker Hooper

Left to right: Taylor Raynor and Deputy Assembly Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead).

Political newcomer Taylor Raynor declared victory in her Democratic primary challenge against Deputy Assembly Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead) in a stunning upset, but the 30-year incumbent did not concede the race.

Raynor had 52 percent of the vote with an about 600-vote margin, according to unofficial early returns provided by the Nassau County Board of Elections late Thursday. It was not immediately clear how many absentee and affidavit ballots still need to be counted in that race.

“Never underestimate the power of the people against the people in power,” said a spokesman for Raynor’s campaign. Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs called it a “big win for the people of the 18th Assembly District.”

The race was among the most-watched on Long Island ever since Hooper shockingly likened Raynor to a slave to white power brokers. Both women are black, as is much of the district. The comments led Jacobs to back Raynor, a psychologist and community activist, over Hooper, the fourth in command of the state Assembly. Days before the primary it got even uglier.

“Taylor Raynor is not a Democrat and only pretends to be one for this race,” a Hooper backer wrote in an anonymous letter to some Democrats in the district. “She is a blank…wonder what ‘favor’ Jay Jacobs the party chairman got from her to be a Democrat in this race. Do not be fooled by this loose Jezebel that has two kids and no husband! She wants to make us all learn Spanish!”

The letter goes on to tout Hooper’s church involvement, her role in keeping Stop & Shop from leaving Hempstead and warns that “Jesus sees your vote!” Hooper reportedly denied involvement in sending the letter.

Regardless of the primary results, Hooper will still be on ballots in the general election on the Working Families Party, Women’s Equality Party and Reform Party lines. James Lamarre is the Republican and Conservative candidate in that race. The district is largely Democratic.

In the other closely watched races on LI, Family Court Judge Theresa Whelan, the Democratic nominee for Surrogate Court Judge, beat challenger Tara Scully, a Republican whose father is a deputy county executive. 

The race has been described by political observers as a proxy power battle between Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Richard Shaffer and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. Since the job involves overseeing wills and handling the estates of those who die without one — cases that can involve appointing administrators to liquidate or disperse millions of dollars worth of assets — it is among the most coveted posts in the local judiciary. Whelan and Scully will face each other again on Election Day.

At the top of the ticket, Gov. Andrew Cuomo beat Democratic primary challenger and Sex and The City actress Cynthia Nixon as the governor advances his bid for a third term. Cuomo’s top deputy, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, won over her challenger, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn). 

In the second-most watched statewide primary of the day, party nominee and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James fended off three challengers: perennial candidate Zephyr Teachout, U.S. Rep. Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) and attorney Leecia Eve.

In other Nassau County primaries, in Long Beach’s 20th Assembly District, business owner Juan Vides beat Democratic nominee and insurance attorney Jack Vobis by about 300 votes, early returns show. Vides will now try to unseat freshman Assemb. Melissa Miller (R-Atlantic Beach).

And in Nassau’s lone GOP primary, retired NYPD detective James Coll lost a challenge to freshman Assemb. John Mikulin (R-Bethpage) in the 17th district, which covers the central portion of the county.

Across the county line, in Suffolk’s lone GOP primary, Assemb. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) trounced challenger Mike Yacubich with 80 percent of the vote on the North Fork. And in central Suffolk, Assemb. Philip Ramos (D-Bay Shore), the deputy majority leader, survived a Democratic primary challenge from Maxima Castro.

Hooper wasn’t the only state legislative leader to face loss at the polls Thursday. State Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Westchester), the former head of the once-powerful and recently disbanded Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), lost his primary to challenger Alessandra Biaggi. Most of the former eight-member IDC suffered the same fate.

Attention now turns to Election Day, which falls on Nov. 6.

“The governor’s resounding victory is a huge win for the people of Suffolk County and the State of New York,” Bellone said in a statement. “With Democratic turnout at historic levels, our attention now turns to electing a Democratic State Senate this November.”