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Democrat Anna Kaplan challenges GOP state Sen. Elaine Phillips

Democrat Anna Kaplan, a North Hempstead Town councilwoman,

Democrat Anna Kaplan, a North Hempstead Town councilwoman, will challenge freshman Republican state Sen. Elaine Phillips. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Anna Kaplan, a Democratic North Hempstead councilwoman, will challenge Republican State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) in a race that could help determine control of the State Senate.

Democrats are eyeing the 7th Senate District seat after party candidates won Senate special elections Tuesday night in the Bronx and Westchester County, giving the party a numerical edge in the chamber.

But Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) said he would continue to caucus with Republicans. Democrats are looking to the November elections to flip other state seats.

Phillips, a former mayor of Flower Hill, is completing her first term after succeeding Republican Jack Martins, who had occupied the seat since 2011.

Democrat Brad Schwartz, a Port Washington resident and professional television editor and producer, also has been a candidate in the race, since September.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the 7th District, with 24,000 more active voters, state records show. The 7th has 218,214 active voters, including those registered with minor parties and more than 56,000 who are unaffiliated.

“We’re going to make a full effort here. It’s going to be an important race. Now, with Simcha Felder deciding to stay with Republicans, it all falls on Nassau to lead the way in changing the Senate majority to the Democrats,” said Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs.

Kaplan, 52, of Kensington Village, is in her second, four-year term on the North Hempstead Town Board. In 2016, she placed fourth in the Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District. Democrat Thomas Suozzi won the primary and the general election.

“I’m running because the 7th Senate District is a very diverse community, diverse in its residents, diverse in its economic levels . . . I would like to unite everybody to bring everybody together,” Kaplan said in an interview.

Schwartz, 39, said in an email that he filed for his candidacy in September 2017. “I welcome Anna Kaplan into the race at this late stage.” He said he was running “because I’m a native resident of the district who wants to see a change of culture in our government.”

Phillips said her “sole focus” is her job “and keeping the momentum going on important issues I have proudly championed into law this year, including landmark sexual harassment legislation and protecting victims by removing firearms from individuals convicted of domestic violence. At the appropriate time, I will turn my attention to the fall election . . . ”

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