Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
Some Republicans grumbled following the party's multiseat slide in the State Senate last week that the Conservative Party had helped loosen their grip on the majority -- by opposing re-election of four GOP senators who'd voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
According to Tuesday's unofficial results, Democratic candidates led in a majority of the state's 63 districts -- all pending recanvassing, paper-ballot counts and certifications.
Veteran Sen. Stephen Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) got 42 percent versus 44 percent for his Democratic opponent, Terry Gipson, preliminary figures show. Conservative nominee Neil Di Carlo's 14 percent undoubtedly ate into Saland's vote.
Another Republican incumbent who voted yes on the gay-marriage bill, upstater James Alesi, decided to forgo a re-election race. His replacement on the GOP line then lost the election. The party appears to have kept the other two seats.
But if the Conservative Party played spoiler elsewhere, its support for Republican incumbents proved quite helpful on Long Island. Early totals showed Assemb. Philip Boyle (R-Bay Shore) with fewer votes on the GOP line (42.5 percent of the total) than Legis. Rick Montano of Brentwood got on the Democratic line (43.8 percent). Boyle, however, picked up 8 percent on the Conservative line, plus 2.5 percent on Independence, to put him ahead.
In Nassau, it was similar for Sens. Jack M. Martins (R-Mineola) and Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City). Both were trailing Democrat-to-Republican -- but drew an important 5 percent-plus on the Conservative line, and lesser totals on the Independence line.
The Conservative line also carried Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) to a majority in the new Suffolk portion of his district.
Conservative Party leaders, including Suffolk chairman Ed Walsh, defended the decision to go after Republicans who defied the Conservative platform by helping enact the gay-nuptials law. "They abandoned us. We didn't abandon them," Walsh said. "As I said then, [Senate Majority Leader Dean] Skelos should never have brought that to the floor for a vote."
Skelos has said he let the members vote their conscience on the issue.
THE BEAT GOES ON: Hannon, for years talked up as a target by the Democrats, got a still-unofficial 52.4 percent in his newly drawn district against the Dems' Ryan X. Cronin. If that total holds, it surpasses Hannon's 51.2 percent tally in 2008, a comparably Democratic-favoring presidential year in New York.