With no contested countywide races on the ballot, both Suffolk Republicans and Democrats are vying for voters' attention in the battle for control of the 18-member county legislature in Tuesday's general election.
Potentially high-profile races involving Democratic District Attorney Thomas Spota, GOP Treasurer Angie Carpenter and Conservative Sheriff Vincent DeMarco are all but decided because all three have been cross-endorsed by both major and minor parties and have no opposition.
"It's almost special election-esque," said Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, referring to low-turnout races often held in other parts of the year when electoral vacancies occur. While the atmosphere is quiet, Schaffer said his party's computer targeting and grassroots get-out-the-vote effort has an edge on the GOP.
He also said he senses Republicans are feeling "some of the aftereffects of what their crazy colleagues were doing in Washington" over budget issues.
However, John Jay LaValle, Suffolk Republican chairman, countered that Washington gridlock has hurt both parties, but "Obamacare is the fault of the Democrats and is rearing its ugly head" in this election.
He said his party could pick up at least several seats to narrow the current 12-5 majority held by Democrats and their minor-party allies. "They have a majority of five seats," said LaValle, referring solely to the Democratic lawmakers. "And we have six competitive races. Anything can happen."
LaValle added that strong GOP efforts in town races such as Huntington and Brookhaven could help the county ticket.
Republicans say among their best shots is the 6th Legislative District where Democratic Legis. Sarah Anker is looking for her second full term against GOP lawyer Jennifer Juengst, who has been involved in local environment causes.
They also point to the open 14th District seat where veteran Lindenhurst Deputy Mayor Kevin McCaffrey, also president of Teamster Local 707, is running against Thomas Dolan, scion of a well-known Babylon Democratic family who has both Schaffer and County Executive Steve Bellone walking the district for him. They also cite the 18th District, where they have high hopes for Robert Conte, brother of the late GOP Assemb. James Conte, who is taking on freshman Democrat Legis. William Spencer, a pediatric surgeon.
LaValle also said the party has chances in the 8th District where Republican Anthony Musumeci is running against Democrat William Lindsay Jr., who is looking to succeed his late father, Presiding Officer William Lindsay, who died last month after a battle with cancer.
The GOP also sees a chance in the 7th District where attorney John Halverson is taking on freshman Legis. Rob Calarco, and in 2nd District where term-limited Southampton Town Board member Christopher Nuzzi is challenging 10-year Legis. Jay Schneiderman.
Schaffer, however, said he sees Schneiderman as a safe seat and claimed that Anker is showing the most strength in polls among the freshman Democrats.
Within Democratic ranks, Schaffer and Bellone are also heavily backing party primary winner Monica Martinez against Democratic Legis. Rick Montano, who is running on the Working Families Party line.
In the special election for the 2nd Assembly seat, Republicans say attorney Anthony Palumbo has an edge as a former prosecutor and community activist. Schaffer acknowledges that voter registration is against them, but Democratic candidate James McManmon, 28, an attorney, has waged an energetic campaign. "I see that as a dead heat," he said.