Republicans L. Dean Murray and Michael Montesano appeared to win Assembly seats in special elections on Long Island last night, continuing the run of local GOP electoral success that began in November.
Murray, 45, of East Patchogue, led Patchogue Democrat Lauren Thoden by 186 votes out of more than 8,000 cast, with 100 percent of election districts reporting.
But while Murray and Republicans claimed victory, Brookhaven Democratic chairman Jon Schneider did not concede, saying there are 413 absentee ballots still to be counted.
Murray and Montesano each lost county legislature races in November and rebounded in their Assembly races. Their apparent GOP victories add to the party's Long Island momentum that began November when Ed Mangano upset former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi and Nassau Republicans won a majority of their county legislature.
Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle said the party's next target is state Sen. Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point).
"This is a seat that has always slipped away from us and Dean Murray has taken it back," LaValle told a jubilant crowd at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Holtsville.
Murray, who owns a Medford publishing company, replaces Patricia Eddington (WF-Medford), who became Brookhaven Town clerk. "We don't want the old politics," a hoarse Murray said. "We want the new stuff."
Thoden, a judge's law clerk in the Appellate Division, was making her first run for public office. She vowed to fight on. "It's absolutely not over," she told 40 supporters at Global Sports Cafe in Medford. "We can still take this thing."
Montesano, an attorney, would replace Rob Walker (R-Hicksville), who became Mangano's chief deputy county executive last month.
Turnout for both races was relatively low. In Suffolk, the election drew 10.5 percent of registered voters. Nassau's turnout was so light that Jay Jacobs, the state and Nassau Democratic chairman, said officials did not monitor it.
With William Murphy
and Rick Brand