With the heavily Republican 14th Assembly District's paper ballots all counted Tuesday, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi's bid for re-election was still 160 votes short of his Republican opponent, according to the Nassau Board of Elections.
After the counting of the 13th District, the tally stands at 121,910 for Republican Legis. Edward Mangano of Bethpage and 121,750 for Suozzi.
After finishing the 13th and 14th districts Tuesday, the vote counters now have two more Assembly districts to review, the 10th and the 21st. Those two Assembly districts together have more registered Republicans than Democrats, election officials said.
William Biamonte, Nassau's Democratic commissioner of elections, said there is a total of about 830 absentee ballots left to be tallied. Officials said more than 500 have been set aside for a judge to decide.
The tight race has attracted the attention of former Republican county executive Fran Purcell, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The nine-year county leader places calls every day to his former chief deputy county executive Owen Smith, who has been monitoring the paper ballot count daily, while bringing pastry for both sides from the bakery in his Milleridge Inn complex. "Every night," Smith said of the calls. "He's really interested."
Purcell, who said he has known Suozzi since he was in high school and only met Mangano over the phone last week, said he liked both men.
"I think that both are good men, and whoever wins, the county will be in good hands," Purcell said in a telephone interview, adding that Mangano said he was 7 years old when Purcell became county executive in 1977.
Purcell said he remains interested in the county because he has a lot of family in Nassau.
"It's a big job, with a budget bigger than 11 states," Purcell said. "I'm willing to support and help whoever wins."
Back in the big counting room in Mineola, a table of three Democrats and three Republicans erupted in laughter. One Democrat, Jessica Taneja, looked around and said half jokingly: "Maybe we shouldn't laugh so much, people might think we're too friendly."