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Suozzi holds 237-vote lead over Mangano

In this file photo, a man helps a

In this file photo, a man helps a voter at Pulaski Street Elementary School in Riverhead. Photo Credit: Newsday, 2008 / Ana P. Gutierrez

County Executive Thomas Suozzi is locked in an extremely close race with Republican challenger Edward Mangano after voters went to the polls Tuesday simmering with anger over taxes and the economy.

With all precincts reporting, Suozzi, a Glen Cove Democrat, leads Mangano, a Republican from Bethpage, by 237 votes, according to Nassau Board of Elections late Tuesday. Republicans appeared to have a slim majority in the Nassau County Legislature.

Anticipating the close races, attorneys for both sides got a court order Tuesday freezing the machines and paper ballots, according to Democratic lawyer Steven R. Schlesinger.

The two contenders traded the lead during the vote count.

>>PHOTOS: Click here to see election highlights and lowlights

Nassau Democratic District Attorney Kathleen Rice won decisively over her challenger Tuesday night, but Comptroller Howard Weitzman was trailing Republican George Maragos in a low-turnout election in which voters punished incumbents from both parties.

"This is a tough time to be an incumbent, because the people are in a bad mood," Suozzi told supporters Tuesday night.

>>VIDEO: Click here to see Suozzi and Mangano give closing speeches

In Nassau's 7th Legislative District, Democrat Jeffrey Toback of Oceanside was upset by his Republican challenger, Howard Kopel of Lawrence, giving the GOP at least a one-vote majority on the county legislature.

In the 14th District, incumbent Democrat David Mejias was ahead by fewer than 100 votes over Republican challenger Joseph Belesi.

In Southampton, Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot lost to Democratic town board member Anna Throne-Holst, in what might have been a public referendum on the town's fiscal distress, Kabot's combative style or her recent drunken driving arrest.

In Riverhead, incumbent Supervisor Philip Cardinale lost to Republican challenger Sean Walter, a former town attorney who has criticized his handling of major developments.

In East Hampton, Republican Bill Wilkinson handily beat Democrat Ben Zwirn, a top aide to County Executive Steve Levy and a former North Hempstead supervisor.

Republicans also are poised to wrest control of the East Hampton town board from Democrats after the indictment of the town's top fiscal aide and the resignation of Democratic Supervisor William McGintee.

But incumbent supervisors easily survived challenges in Brookhaven, Huntington, Babylon and Smithtown, where 31-year incumbent Patrick Vecchio appeared to have a solid margin of victory over town board member Patricia Biancaniello.

Voters also re-elected Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, NorthNorth HempsteadHempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto and Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty. Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale, a Democrat, lost to Republican Sean Walter.

In legislative races, a key ally of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, 4th District Legis. Brian Beedenbender lost to Republican Thomas Muratore, a retired Suffolk Police Benevolent Association vice president.

Local candidates spent the day closely monitoring turnout, which political leaders expected to reach about 30 percent in Nassau County and 23 percent in Suffolk.

Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs forecast trouble for Suozzi at 6 p.m., when he said more voters than he hoped were turning out in the county's GOP districts, while traditionally Democratic precincts were not meeting expectations.

"I just don't see Democrats coming out the way we would have liked," Jacobs said. "It doesn't mean anything terrible for the results, but it doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling right now."

In Nassau's other competitive races, Legis. John Ciotti (R-North Valley Stream) appeared to defeat Democratic challenger Nina Petraro Bastardi of Valley Stream.

Legis. Joseph Scannell (D-Baldwin) was leading his challenger, Republican Christian Browne of Rockville Centre.

Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer said turnout there would be about 23 percent, near pre-election estimates. Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello couldn't be reached.

Schaffer said turnout in Suffolk is running one percentage point higher than it did in 2007, when County Executive Steve Levy ran without major-party opposition.

"We're happy with what's going on so far," he said.

In Suffolk, District Attorney Thomas Spota, Sheriff Vincent DeMarco and Treasurer Angie Carpenter were all re-elected without opposition, thanks to a four-party cross-endorsement deal.

Nassau Comptroller Weitzman, a Democrat, trails Republican George Maragos by about 3,100 votes.

Republican County Clerk Maureen O'Connell defeated Democrat Carrie Solages.

All 19 Nassau legislators and all 18 Suffolk legislators were up for re-election.

With about half the votes counted in Suffolk's 10th District, Republican Thomas Cilmi held a healthy lead over Democrat Patrick Nolan and Conservative Timothy Molnar. The three sought the open seat being vacated by Legis. Cameron Alden (R-Islip).

In the 11th District, Legis. Thomas Barraga (R-West Islip) defeated Democrat Jim Alcus.

Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi was re-elected.

There also were two proposals for state Constitutional amendments. One would give state forest land in St. Lawrence County to National Grid to build a power line in exchange for privately owned old-growth forest. The other would allow state prisoners to volunteer for nonprofit organizations.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared to win a third term. Bloomberg, an Independent candidate running on the Republican and Independence Party lines, defeated Democrat William Thompson, the city comptroller, though the margin was far less than anticipated. City residents also elected Bill De Blasio as public advocate and John Liu as comptroller.

In the North Country's 23rd Congressional District, a raucous campaign to replace former Rep. John McHugh came to a close. Democrat Bill Owens leads Conservative Douglas Hoffmann by four percentage points with two-thirds of the vote counted. The GOP candidate, Assemb. Dede Scozzafava (R-Gouverneur), dropped out of the race on Saturday and endorsed Owens.

With Celeste Hadrick

>>PHOTOS: Click here to see election highlights and lowlights

>>PHOTOS: Thomas Suozzi | Ed Mangano

>>RESULTS: Click here for complete town-by-town vote totals

>>COMPLETE COVERAGE: All election stories | Latest Spin Cycle blog posts

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