2 veteran LI GOP assemblymen calling it quits

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After almost 15 years of commuting to Albany, Assemb. Thomas Alfano of North Valley Stream decided his family life was slipping away, so he's giving up on the job.

After nearly 10 years of the same commute, and a health scare two years ago, Assemb. Robert Barra of Lynbrook is also calling it quits with Albany.

The departure of the Republican assemblymen from Nassau County creates two open seats for positions that greatly favor incumbents.

Democrats nominated Michael Florio, a former aide to Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, last week to run against Republican nominee Brian Curran, the mayor of Lynbrook, for Barra's 14th Assembly District seat.

The Democrats named Hermonie "Mimi" Johnson, president of the Argo Civic Association in Elmont, to run against GOP designee Edward Ra, an attorney with the Town of Hempstead, for Alfano's 21st Assembly District seat.

Nassau County Republican chairman Joseph Mondello said Curran, 41, and Ra were "outstanding candidates," who would challenge what he considered tax-and-spend Democrats in Albany.

"I'm looking forward to them winning big in November and keeping these seats in the Republican column," Mondello said Friday.

Alfano, 50, said he was stepping down because, "after 14 years, it's time. My youngest daughter was 6 months old when I was first elected. She's 15 now."

He said he would continue his work as a lawyer and would remain active in civic affairs in the district.

Barra said he was stepping aside because, "I don't want to be a lifer. Ten years is enough." He said he had heart problems during the 2008 campaign and had three stents inserted. "That definitely played a role," he said. He is unsure of his plans, he said.

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Republicans hold an edge in registered voters in the Barra district, 34,711 to 31,744 Democrats, and Curran has had three years as mayor to raise his profile. This is Florio's first run for public office.

The district includes Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, South Hempstead and portions of several other communities.

Republican turnout in the district might also be boosted if Nassau County Legis. Francis X. Becker (R-Lynbrook), whose brother, Hilary, is on the village board, decides to run against U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy.

In the Alfano district, Democrats outnumber Republicans 34,005 to 31,647, but the GOP operation run by Joseph Cairo in the western part of the district has a history of getting out the Republican vote.

Johnson said she would use her full name on the ballot, Mimi Pierre Johnson, which could help her in the eastern part of the district. The area has a growing Caribbean population and showed a spike in Democratic enrollment during Barack Obama's run for president.

The district includes Elmont, Franklin Square, Floral Park, North Valley Stream, and parts of several other communities.

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