By Connor Beach
Democrat Jim Gaughran’s successful bid to unseat veteran Republican State Senator Carl Marcellino helped flip control of the state senate, while elsewhere in races around the Town of Huntington incumbents from both parties held onto their seats.
Tuesday’s election was billed as a litmus test of the country’s political climate. In national election results, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate.
In the 3rd Congressional district, Democratic incumbent Thomas Suozzi won a second term with 58 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Dan DeBono. Suozzi, 56, of Glen Cove, earned 145,060 votes to DeBono’s 103,278.
“I am so honored to serve as a member of the United State Congress, and I’m feeling pretty good that we are going to be in the majority come January first,” Suozzi told Nassau County Democrats Tuesday night.
State Senate Changes Hands
At the state level, Democrats now control the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. Governor Andrew Cuomo easily won re-election against Republican challenger Marc Molinaro, and Democrats flipped a 32-31 Republican majority in the senate.
State Senate Majority Leader Republican John Flanagan, of East Northport, won his re-election campaign for the 2nd Senate District against Democratic challenger Kathleen Cleary with 55 percent of the vote, but conceded the senate majority following last night’s election results.
“Regardless of any election outcome, the Senate Republican Conference will continue to be a strong and important voice in Albany,” Flanagan said in a statement Wednesday.
After their race two years ago was decided by just 1 percentage point, Gaughran once again challenged Marcellino for the 5th State Senate District. This time around Gaughran earned 62,933 votes, 10,050 votes more than Marcellino, who has held the seat for 23 years. The race was one of the most expensive in the state, with both sides spending over a million dollars to win the important seat.
“I came close two years ago, and the number of people who got involved I think was the big difference,” Gaughran said in an interview Wednesday.
Gaughran will join six Long Island Democratic senators heading to Albany in 2019. He said the argument that Republican control of the senate is needed as a check in state government was “turned on its head.”
Entering Albany as a member of the new senate majority, Gaughran said he hopes to see the Child Victims Act, common sense gun control and electoral reform legislation move forward in the senate.
Incumbents Keep Assembly Seats
In the 12th Assembly District, veteran assemblyman Andrew Raia held off a challenge from Democrat Avrum Rosen. Rosen, 64, of Centerport, entered the race in August after the first choice Democratic candidate, Michael Marcantonio, lost a legal challenge over his eligibility and was tossed from the ballot.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to make sure we stick together on Long Island- Republicans and Democrats- to ensure that we get our share of state resources,” Raia said Tuesday night.
Raia, who was first elected to represent the district in 2002, also said he felt “one party rule in Albany spells disaster for Long Island.”
In the 10th Assembly District, Democratic incumbent Steve Stern won 60 percent of the vote against 22-year-old Republican challenger Jeremy Williams.
Stern, who was elected to the seat in an April special election, said Wednesday his “record of delivering results” helped his message resonate with voters.
“I’m looking forward to introducing legislative initiatives that will have a beneficial impact for our local economy, protect our taxpayers and ensure opportunities for our district,” Stern said.
Dems Win Special Elections To Town Ofices
In the Town of Huntington races, two Democratic incumbents held onto their seats in their first bids for election.
Councilwoman Joan Cergol, who was appointed to her seat in December, held onto her seat on the Huntington Town Board against Republican challenger James Leonick.
Leonick, of East Northport, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for town board in 2017, congratulated Cergol after election results were announced Tuesday night.
“We had a lot of positive reactions from the people we connected with throughout the campaign,” Leonick said. “We saw the best of what the town and the people have to offer.”
Cergol said in an interview Wednesday that her election was an “important affirmation by the voters” of her work thus far on the town board.
“It was great to know my message was heard and resonated with people,” Cergol said, adding that she felt campaign ads unjustly targeted her professional career.
“At times I was under attack and supporters told me to push back, but that’s not my way.”
Cergol said Republican Supervisor Chad Lupinacci “was the first person to call and congratulate me” after election results were in Tuesday night, and she said she is looking forward to working with Lupinacci and the rest of the town board to “promote more inclusion, understanding and cooperation” in the town.
The race for town Receiver of Taxes between incumbent Democrat Jillian Guthman and Republican challenger Janet Smitelli saw the candidates earn 39,970 and 36,210 votes, respectively.
Guthman, who was appointed to her position in December after longtime tax receiver Ester Bivona retired, won 52.46 percent of the vote.
RESULTS AT A GLANCE
*Thomas Suozzi (D): 145,060
Dan DeBono (R): 103,278
2nd State Senate:
*John Flanagan (R): 62,748
Kathleen Cleary (D): 50,581
5th State Senate:
James Gaughran (D): 62,933
*Carl Marcellino (R): 52,833
10th State Assembly:
*Steve Stern (D): 26,687
Jeremy Williams (R): 18,176
12th State Assembly:
*Andrew Raia (R): 26,705
Avrum Rosen (D): 21,080
Judith Pascale (R): 253,926
Du Wayne Gregory (D): 218,553
*John Kennedy (R): 246,690
Jay Schneiderman (D): 238,067
*Joan Cergol (D): 40,741
James Leonick (R): 35,884
Town Receiver of Taxes
*Jillian Guthman (D): 39,970
Janet Smitelli (R): 36,210
* indicates incumbents
Results from Suffolk and Nassau County Board of Elections