Voters in Nassau and Suffolk will head to the polls on Thursday to cast their ballots in a host of primaries, including the Democratic matchup between Madeline Singas and Michael Scotto for Nassau district attorney.
Singas, of Manhasset, who was appointed acting district attorney in January after her predecessor, Kathleen Rice, was elected to Congress, enters the race with the endorsement of the Nassau Democratic Committee and $807,027 in cash on hand from campaign contributions, according to the latest state campaign finance reports.
Scotto, a former Manhattan prosecutor who lives in Port Washington, has campaigned aggressively against Singas since announcing his candidacy in May, but has lagged in fundraising. State campaign finance records show he had $12,760 cash on hand as of Aug. 27, the latest available data. He was also forced to spend time and money fighting legal challenges from Nassau Democrats who contested his nominating petitions, though they eventually dropped their challenge.
Both Democrats are vying to run against Republican Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray in the Nov. 3 general election.
While Singas has primarily focused on campaigning against Murray by questioning her law enforcement credentials, Singas and Scotto recently attended a candidates forum hosted by the Freeport chapter of the NAACP, where she told attendees she would work harder to increase the diversity of prosecutors in the office.
"I think people do have a sense of what this race means," Singas said in an interview. "I'm out there talking to voters . . . telling them I'm a prosecutor, I have represented victims of crime, I have been fighting crime and have been doing it here in Nassau County. People appreciate the fact that I'm a prosecutor and not a politician."
In the past week, Scotto has been crisscrossing the county in a recreational vehicle serving as a mobile campaign headquarters, talking to voters at Long Island Rail Road stations, shopping plazas and community meetings, encouraging them to vote in the primary.
"All the money in the world can't buy you a vote," he said in an interview. "Nothing can buy talking to people, engaging with them, telling them that things in Nassau can be different."
Among the challenges facing Scotto, and other primary candidates not backed by their local party committee, is the historically low voter turnout in Long Island primary elections, said Stanley Klein, a political-science professor at LIU Post in Brookville.
"Unless both sides have spent a lot of money and have had a lot of boots on the sidewalk, primaries generally get less than five percent turnout," Klein said. "When there is a very small turnout, the people most firmly attached to the party are the ones who mainly vote, and if they go out, they vote for the party-backed candidates."
Voters in the cities of Glen Cove and Long Beach, and the towns of East Hampton, Huntington, Islip, Riverhead, Smithtown, Southold and Southampton also will vote in several high-profile primary matchups.
In Islip, former Suffolk Legis. Ricardo Montano of Brentwood is running against attorney Thomas B. Licari of Kismet, who has the backing of the Islip Democratic Party, for the chance to run as a Democrat against Republican Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter in the general election.
Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello, a registered member of the Independence Party who also won the endorsement of the Nassau County Republican executive committee, is running against Glen Cove City Councilman Anthony Gallo Jr. for the chance to run on the Republican Party line.
Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter is facing a primary challenge from GOP town board member Jodi Giglio, who has the town party's endorsement.
Nassau's registered Green Party and Independence Party voters also will make their picks in judicial races for Nassau County Court, Nassau County District Court and Nassau County Surrogate's Court.
In Suffolk, Green voters will pick among three Family Court judge candidates -- George F. Harkin, Matthew G. Hughes and Martha L. Luft -- for two spots on the party line in November.