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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Senate primary has GOP pondering turnout

Attorney Wendy Long talks with supporters during the

Attorney Wendy Long talks with supporters during the New York State Republican Convention in Rochester. (March 16, 2012) Credit: AP

Two months ago, a total of 190,518 votes were tallied in New York's Republican presidential primary, representing less than 7 percent of GOP enrollment statewide. Of course, that contest was academic; candidate Rick Santorum had quit two weeks earlier, assuring Mitt Romney would win the national nomination.

In contrast, Tuesday's U.S. Senate primary -- among attorney Wendy Long, Nassau Comptroller George Maragos and Rep. Robert Turner (R-Rockaway Point) -- offers suspense and the chance for a few votes to affect the outcome.

Still, some Republicans wondered privately Friday if turnout might prove very light again. New York voters are, after all, unaccustomed to June primaries -- let alone with ballots that include only federal races, with state and local party primaries are scheduled as usual for September. Also, many school terms have ended, with families away on vacation.

But intraparty rivalries between Republican House candidates could drive up Senate turnout in the handful of districts that host them. Nassau has one in the 4th Congressional District; Suffolk, officially, has another in the 1st Congressional District, though one of two candidates on the ballot conceded early, making the result all but assured. Other Republican Congressional contests are set for the 17th District in Rockland and Westchester, the 21st in the North Country, the 22nd in Central New York and the 27th in Western New York.

Note that in the April 24 presidential vote, Long Island Republicans accounted for nearly 20 percent of state turnout -- with 20,144 votes in Suffolk, the most of any county, and 17,826 in second-place Nassau, tallies show.

Tuesday, only Democrats in districts with House primaries, such as the Queens-Nassau 5th District, may vote since Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, has no primary challenger.

MTA SEAT: Nassau Executive Edward Mangano finally sent Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo three names for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, according to a county spokesman, who declined to reveal them. But the state Senate, which must confirm the appointment, has adjourned until after Election Day, so once filled, the Nassau seat is likely to have been vacant for nearly a year.

BACK IN THE PIPELINE: State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced restoration of $3 million-plus in local project funds sponsored by his predecessor, Democrat Brian Foley, but cut in 2010 by Democratic majority finance officials in their final days in power.

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