Wendy Long romps to win GOP Senate nomination

U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long while campaigning in U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long while campaigning in Garden City, Long Island. (June 25, 2012) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Manhattan lawyer Wendy Long earned her party's nomination to oppose incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand for her U.S. Senate seat, while incumbent Congressman Eliot Engel easily fended off a challenge from challenger Aniello Grimaldi on Tuesday night.

Long convincingly defeated fellow Republicans Bob Turner, a House member representing Brooklyn and Queens, and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos. Observers called the race for Long with fewer than 60 percent of districts reporting.

Engel won in the 16th Congressional District with more than 90 percent of the vote.

In the 17th District, hedge fund manager and Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin, 57, declared victory over Jim Russell, 58, a former computer programmer from Hawthorne. Carvin will face a tough race against popular incumbent Rep. Nita Lowey in November.

"I'm thrilled with the results and the support I have received from voters in Rockland and Westchester counties, as well as the party," Carvin said Tuesday night. "We're looking forward to the general election."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Lowey's newly configured 18th Congressional District was expanded under statewide redistricting to include all of Rockland County and much of northwest Westchester County. Sixty percent of the registered voters in the district are Democrats. President Barack Obama captured 59 percent of the vote in the district in 2008.

Among Democrats, The Associated Press called the 18th Congressional District race for Sean Maloney, who paced five fellow Democrats looking to unseat Republican Nan Hayworth in the 18th Congressional District.

In a victory statement, Mahoney said Hayworth "does not speak for us. She does not share our values. Her time is up, and she needs to go."

Mahoney's former opponents were already offering their support by the end of the evening.

"I'd like to congratulate my opponent for his victory tonight and wish him the best of luck in the general election," said the runner-up, Richard Becker. "The Hudson Valley can't afford two more years of this Tea Party Congress. One term was one too many for Nan Hayworth."

And in the Democratic primary for the 19th Congressional District, Julian Schreibman defeated Joel Tyner. Schreibman will face Republican Nan Hayworth in the general election.

Statewide redistricting had recast the Hudson Valley's political map, eliminating the 22nd District held by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-Hurley) and changing the boundaries of existing congressional districts.

A tepid turnout in the Hudson Valley added weight to every vote cast.

"It's been lower than we expected," said Rockland County Republican Election Commissioner Louis Babcock, who attributed the sparse turnout to changes in the federal election calender and voter fatigue from school and local elections and three separate primaries.

Inside the Cross Hill Academy in Yonkers, one of the city's largest polling stations, there were more election workers than voters early Tuesday evening, when most had expected an after-work rush.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"I've been involved in elections since [George W.] Bush first ran for office and I've never seen it this bad," said Jessi Nicoletti, a Republican election observer. "It just seems like everyone decided to pass this one over."

Voters who bothered to show up at the Yonkers polling station voiced similar concerns about the abysmal turnout.

"It's shameful, just shameful," said Barbara Colivito, an elderly Republican from Yonkers who said she has voted in every election since she was 18. "I feel it's my civic duty and a privilege. People don't seem to care anymore."

The scene was much the same elsewhere. Poll workers at St. Augustine Parish Center in New City, the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center in Ossining and the Mamaroneck Avenue Elementary School each reported fewer than 20 voters in the first few hours of voting.

"Where is everybody?" Republican Cynthia Cestone asked.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Angelo Prizzi of New City was more blunt. "It's disgraceful," he said. "Everybody is asleep. That's why we have problems in this country."

To rouse the electorate, Edward Cox, state Republican chairman, sent out an email urging GOP voters to go to the polls "to send a message to Washington."

One Republican who heeded the call was Bill Wilson, 58, who came to the Middletown Senior Center on Main Street to vote for Turner.

"We need to restore the balance of power in Washington," said Wilson, a housing contractor.

Across the political spectrum, interior designer Stacy Feldman, 32, of Middletown, was hoping the winner of the Democratic nomination in the 18th Congressional District Democrats will be able to depose incumbent Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-Bedford).

"I don't like what she stands for, the Tea Party and all that," Feldman said.

Because New York's population grew at a slower pace than other states, the state lost two of its 29 congressional districts in redistricting this year. The state Senate's Republican majority and the Assembly's Democratic majority couldn't agree on the new boundaries for the districts, so the maps were drawn by a federal judge called in to mediate the standoff.

As if that weren't enough to confuse voters, the congressional primary was moved up from mid-September to June, following opposition from the U.S. Department of Defense, which argued it needed more time to send general election ballots to military units overseas.

For those who showed up at the polls in Orange County, there were federal observers monitoring the elections to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The observers were mandated based on a federal court order requiring easy access for Puerto Rican voters with limited comprehension of English.

As a result of the order, Orange County was required to use bilingual ballots and to have workers at polling places who speak both English and Spanish.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

With Meghan Murphy, Tim O'Connor and The Associated Press

You also may be interested in: