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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

LI Democratic state senators, newest source of political muscle

Brown: If the six Long Island Democratic state senators don't deliver for Nassau and Suffolk, the delegation will not last long in office. 

On Wednesday, Newsday columnist Joye Brown and political editor Jack Sirica recapped election night results. (Credit: Newsday / Arnold Miller)

Long Island’s never seen anything like this:

Six local New York State senators, all Democrats — two are women and three are immigrants.

Still, the region’s newest source of political muscle — call them the Long Island Six, who reflect the increased diversity of Nassau and Suffolk — won’t last long unless the delegation delivers.

That could mean working with Long Island’s three remaining Republican state senators; or, perhaps forming a coalition with other state senators, Democrat and otherwise, who represent suburban areas.

But first, let’s delve deeper into Tuesday’s results.

As a freshman senator in a district long held by Republicans — propelled into office by residents angered by allegations of corruption against county and town officials — Democrat John Brooks had been considered easy pickings for Republicans to pull back the seat.

So easy, that Republicans dubbed him “the accidental senator” — and even some fellow Democrats considered Brooks’ re-election a long shot. Still, Brooks ended up with a win, with a big boost from Democratic turnout in Nassau’s corridor of black and Latino neighborhoods in Freeport, Roosevelt and North Amityville.

Monica Martinez, whose parents came to the United States from El Salvador when she was 3 years old, won election to a vacant Senate seat — propelled in large part by a large turnout of Latino voters in Brentwood and Central Islip.

Many of the precincts that gave Martinez the win, according to unofficial reports, also voted in numbers large enough to give Rep. Peter King’s opponent a slender lead in votes cast in the Suffolk County portion of his sprawling congressional district.

But King’s reliable constituency in the Nassau County, and mostly Republican, portion of the district pushed King to victory — by the smallest margin in his long political career.

Precincts in diverse neighborhoods in Elmont gave Anna Kaplan, who emigrated from Tehran, Iran when she was a teenager, the edge over incumbent Republican State Sen. Elaine Phillips; and James Gaughran, who came close to defeating Republican state Sen. Carl Marcellino two years ago, benefited from higher Democratic turnout in multiple areas of his district this time around to win.

Kevin Thomas, who came to the United States from India with his parents when he was 10 years old, was one of the surprises of the night — defeating veteran Republican State Sen. Kemp Hannon, with a boost from Democratic turnout in Hempstead and Uniondale.

Rounding out the delegation is State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who easily won reelection and is likely to become leader of the most diverse group elected to represent Long Island in the State Senate ever.

But there’s a lot of work to do if the delegation wants to keep turning out Democrats in higher-than-anticipated numbers compared to the 2014 midterm election — which could be critical to keeping delegation members in Albany.

In New York, Democrats typically hew to the political and policy demands of New York City. That’s what happened after the 2008 election of two Democrats — one from Nassau and one from Suffolk — who voted with the majority to impose an MTA tax.

That tax hurt Long Islanders — who, in the next election, booted both Senate Democrats out of office.

The Long Island Six would do well to avoid a similar fate by — as the storied Republican Long Island Nine did oh, so well — serving the interests of Nassau and Suffolk, first.

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