Nassau redistricting adds GOP voters in key areas

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Nassau Democrats would see large numbers of Republicans added to two of their legislative districts, while the number of GOP voters also would jump in two Republican districts where Democrats have run competitively in the past, in a redistricting plan passed yesterday.

A Newsday review of Board of Elections data shows that:

In the 18th District in Glen Cove, represented by Democrat Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, registration will flip from the current 64-voter edge for Democrats to a 5,081-voter majority for Republicans. Under the new lines, much of Democrat-dominated Glen Cove would be replaced with territory in Oyster Bay, where Republicans predominate.

In 2011, when the district seat was vacant, DeRiggi-Whitton beat Republican Robert Germino by 36 votes. DeRiggi-Whitton is being moved into Democrat Wayne Wink's 11th District in Roslyn under the new map, leaving the 18th without an incumbent. DeRiggi-Whitton said she expects to run in the 11th and Wink has said he considering running for county comptroller.

DeRiggi-Whitton said that while Democrats face an uphill battle in keeping the 18th, "if we have a strong candidate, it's still a possibility. It's not a sure win for Republicans."

Frank Moroney, spokesman for the legislative Republicans, said the 18th District has always been close "and will remain so regardless of the voter registration edge."

In the 19th District, Democrat Dave Denenberg of Merrick would see the 619-voter GOP edge jump to 6,067 under the new lines.

Denenberg won re-election in 2011 with 73 percent of the vote. He says he is considering running for re-election, and that "people in my district vote for the person and not the party."

In the 7th District in Lawrence, represented by Republican Howard Kopel, the GOP would gain an enrollment advantage of almost 2,000 voters. Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in the district by almost 3,000 voters.

Despite the change, Kopel said he preferred the old lines, which kept the Five Towns together. "I think I was in a little better position beforehand," said Kopel, who won re-election in 2011 with nearly 59 percent of the vote. "But I will do fine again."

In the 14th District in Farmingdale, represented by Republican Joseph Belesi, the GOP's 3,000-voter lead would jump to more than 8,000 under the new lines.

Belesi has been moved into the 12th District, now represented by Republican Michael Venditto, leaving the 14th with no incumbent. Belesi has said he is considering retirement.

The remaining 15 legislative districts would not experience significant changes in enrollment breakdown, the data show. Republicans hold a 10-9 advantage in the legislature, and all legislative seats, along with the county executive, comptroller and clerk's positions, are up for election this fall. County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, must sign off on the redistricting map.

Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said that while "the odds certainly favor Republicans" in some new districts, voters do not always vote their party affiliation.

"The Republicans did their best, with their shrinking enrollment, to try and carve out a permanent majority for the next 10 years," he said. "This upcoming election will decide if they were successful."Moroney said incumbent performance, get-out-the vote campaigns and the composition of the top of the ticket will influence individual races. "These other races will have a trickle-down effect on a very busy ballot," he said. "So there should be several hotly contested races."

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