Democrat John Brooks emerged Wednesday with a narrow 41-vote lead over incumbent GOP State Sen. Michael Venditto as the count of more than 8,000 paper ballots ended in the 8th Senate District, election officials said.
The election now hinges on 1,110 objections — more than two-thirds filed by the Republicans — as the case heads to Nassau State Supreme Court in Mineola Tuesday.
On Election Day, Brooks, a Republican running on the Democratic line, held a surprising 33-vote edge over Venditto (R-Massapequa), who is seeking a second term.
Since then, the Nassau and Suffolk boards of elections — the district crosses both counties — counted 8,102 absentee and provisional ballots. Suffolk completed its count last week while Nassau ended its work Wednesday.
“It is clear that John Brooks will be the next state senator from New York’s 8th District,” said Nassau Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs. “I urge the Board of Elections to move swiftly to certify the results so that the people of the South Shore in Eastern Nassau and Western Suffolk are properly represented in Albany.”
Brooks would be Long Island’s second Democratic state senator alongside Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach).
Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif said the election is not over. “This is only one part of the process, and there are still more than a thousand ballots to be examined beginning next week under the supervision of a judge,” he said.
GOP attorneys have challenged 750 Democratic ballots, arguing they are not valid. Democrats objected to 360 Republican ballots. The objections are focused on signatures that may not match their voter registration and unclear markings on envelopes, officials said.
Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy criticized Republicans for objecting to a high number of ballots in minority areas that tend to vote Democrat, including Freeport, Roosevelt and Amityville.
Reif said the Republican objections are “legitimate,” adding that Democrats objected to the ballots of disabled GOP voters, arguing their signatures don’t match those in registration books.
Murphy responded that Republicans were “getting desperate and making wild claims to hide their shameful conduct.”
Nassau Supreme Court Judge Thomas Adams will begin hearing arguments over the objected ballots on Tuesday.
For much of the campaign, Brooks, a former Seaford school board member and deputy fire chief, was a major underdog over his well-known and better-funded opponent.
But on Oct. 21, Venditto’s father, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, was indicted on federal corruption charges. Also charged were Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda. All three pleaded not guilty.
While Michael Venditto was not implicated in the scheme, county and Senate Democrats capitalized on the scandal hoping voters would cast a protest vote against the family.
In the race’s final days Brooks received $47,000 in contributions, largely from union and political leaders. During that same period, Venditto took in $168,000 — nearly $148,000 from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.