Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano won the Nassau County executive race Tuesday, routing Democratic challenger Thomas Suozzi in a rematch of their 2009 contest.
The county reported early Wednesday that Mangano had 59 percent of the vote, compared to nearly 41 percent for Suozzi, who failed in his bid for another shot at the seat he once held. More than 99 percent of the precincts had reported.
"What a great night!" Mangano said, moving to declare victory shortly before 11 p.m., before Suozzi admitted defeat. "I feel so blessed to continue in this job. . . . We overcame the challenges, we overcame the deceptions."
A short time later, Suozzi conceded, saying it was "unusual" Mangano didn't wait for him to call before declaring victory.
"This is a tough loss . . . but it doesn't mean we weren't right," Suozzi said. "We may have had a bad campaign, we may have hit the wrong message, but we still have serious problems in Nassau County."
Suozzi then congratulated Mangano on his victory.
In 2009, Mangano narrowly beat Suozzi in the race by 386 votes.
A referendum authorizing seven Las Vegas-style casinos in a constitutional amendment passed.
Taxes, jobs and other evergreen election issues may have been why several Long Islanders exiting polling stations said they enthusiastically backed casinos in the state referendum.
Shortly after midnight, it was clear the referendum had passed, garnering 57 percent of the votes statewide, based on unofficial results from 85 percent of the precincts.
Long Islanders embraced the idea even more, with backing from 63 percent of Suffolk residents and 67 percent of Nassau voters, according to unofficial results.
"This vote will keep hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year in neighboring states right here in New York, while increasing revenue for local schools, lowering property tax taxes, and bringing proper regulation to the industry," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
For Steven Lansky, 68, of Plainview, the casino question was the No. 1 issue that brought him out to the polls.
"New York State, especially upstate, is hurting badly," he said, "and it isn't getting better."
Across Long Island, voters also decided the fate of county legislative seats, the district attorney post in Nassau and several town supervisor and council races.
Turnout in Suffolk County was 15.7 percent by 5 p.m., with slightly higher numbers in places such as Huntington and Smithtown, where there were competitive town races, and significantly higher numbers on the East End, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
Comparable turnout numbers were not immediately available in Nassau County, but both Democratic and GOP leaders said turnout there was high in their respective strongholds.
Meridith Eaton, 30, of Glen Cove, said taxes prompted her to vote for Mangano. The incumbent has said he wants to borrow money to avoid raising taxes too much.
"I feel he will lead us in the right direction," said Eaton, who had taken her 14-month-old son on her voting trip. "The taxes are so high, it is ridiculous. Family is what keeps us here."
But Dave Hanson, 47, said he worried enough about the future of his family to want to kick out the incumbent in the county executive race. He voted for Suozzi.
"Nassau County is in a depression state," Hanson said at Hempstead Village Hall. "I am concerned about my four kids."
Meanwhile, Katherine Cardullo, a Smithtown mother of twin 7-year-old boys, didn't mind taxes going up as much as some other voters.
"I want my kids to get a great education, even if taxes have to go up," Cardullo, 42, said shortly after voting at the Smithtown Central School District building. "Taxes and education go hand and hand."
With Rick Brand, Robert Brodsky, Sid Cassese, Celeste Hadrick, Candice Ruud, Scott Eidler, Deon J. Hampton and Mackenzie Issler