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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Republicans in Nassau and Suffolk, went in it to win it

Ray Tierney, center, celebrates his win for Suffolk

Ray Tierney, center, celebrates his win for Suffolk district attorney alongside county GOP chairman Jesse Garcia, left, and Suffolk Conservative Party chairman Michael Torres on Tuesday night. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Pendulums swing.

And boy did they swing, and big time, across Long Island on election night, and into the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

There still are absentee ballots to count.

And, as of now, the results of every race remain unofficial.

But oh what a difference a year made.

In 2020, Republican officials warned candidates about the feared red mirage — that is, that a GOP lead on election night could disappear once the absentee ballots were counted.

This time around, there was no mirage.

There was a red wave, a monster of a surge that spread to almost every corner of Nassau County, and across significant political territory in Suffolk as well.

The wins in Nassau echo the kind of significant change voters demanded from county elected officials in the past.

But, first, let's look forward.

The GOP surge in Nassau and Suffolk will make the region fertile ground for candidates seeking to become the next governor of New York State.

There are votes to be had here, and right now GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, a congressman from Shirley, may be in prime position to make the most of it.

The heavy Republican vote Tuesday, meanwhile, could complicate life for Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and other local Democrats interested in running for governor.

The shift to Republicans Tuesday also could have ramifications for another race in 2022, for the county executive seat that will become vacant because Bellone is term-limited.

In Huntington Town, for instance, Republicans easily won the supervisor's race and picked up the highway superintendent's position.

And the GOP could well ending up wresting control of the Suffolk County Legislature from Democrats.

And that's in addition to the lopsided win of GOP district attorney-elect Ray Tierney over incumbent Democrat Tim Sini.

In Nassau, the Republican Party stands to benefit from a sweep of the comptroller and district attorney's offices and, possibly, the county executive's race, in which Republican Bruce Blakeman has declared victory over Democratic County Executive Laura Curran.

And, depending on how things shake out in two legislative races, the GOP could end up with a veto-proof majority in the county legislature.

The Nassau GOP's wins echo two watershed moments in county political history.

The first was in 1999, when voters, weary of financial mismanagement and scandals during the administration of GOP County Executive Thomas Gulotta, gave Democrats control of the county legislature for the first time in almost a century.

Blakeman, then presiding officer of the county legislature, was among the Republicans who lost their jobs.

In 2009, Thomas Suozzi, the Democratic county executive who appeared assured of a third term, fell to Republican Edward Mangano, who went on to serve two terms.

At some point, an analysis of 2021 voting patterns — of who came out to vote, and, just as significantly, who did not — will prove valuable.

Absent that, however, it's fair to say that the GOP, in Nassau and in Suffolk, dug deep to make the case for their candidates.

And came up not just red, but golden.

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