Former Suffolk Legis. Louis D’Amaro has decided to take on veteran state Sen. Phil Boyle for his 4th District seat, creating what could become Long Island’s most competitive race for control of the State Senate.
D’Amaro, 57, announced his candidacy after being wooed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, for a district in which Democrats have an edge in voter registration over Republicans — 69,653 to 63,045.
Term-limited after 12 years as a county lawmaker, D’Amaro said, “After sitting around for five months, I could sit idly by and listen, or get out and make a difference. And that’s why I decided to run.”
A North Babylon resident whose former legislative district is about 25 percent of the Senate district, D’Amaro saids he has a good chance against Boyle. Referring to Boyle’s ill-fated attempt last year to run for Suffolk sheriff, D’Amaro said, “He obviously has shown interest in going to other places, so I’m interested in helping send him on his way.”
Boyle declined comment.
Scott Reif, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan of East Northport, said Boyle has an “extraordinary record” on taxes, job creation and delivering for schools and “we fully expect he will be re-elected to this seat.”
Cuomo, in a statement, said, “It’s critical we elect strong, qualified leaders like Lou D’Amaro to the State Senate to fight for priorities critical to Long Island, including preserving the successful property tax cap, continuing to invest a record amount of funding in our schools, ensuring the safety of our students and fighting Trump’s disastrous repeal of state and local deductibility.”
D’Amaro said, “I have a record of always fighting for the taxpayer” but is also interested in “neighborhood safety, preservation of the environment” and “meaningful protection against gun violence.”
Given the single-vote GOP Senate majority, D’Amaro added, “There’s a change in the air with regard to the State Senate and it’s important Suffolk have a seat at the table . . . so we continue to get our fair share.”
The former county lawmaker said he has been mulling the race for several months and one Cuomo ally said, “The governor was personally courting D’Amaro for weeks and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
D’Amaro said he informed Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, of his decision to run Wednesday morning. Schaffer, who had been backing Hofstra student Bailey Spahn, 20, of Bay Shore, said he told Spahn of D’Amaro’s candidacy and Spahn said he would let Schaffer know if he intends to continue.
Schaffer said the party will print primary petitions for all contenders, who also include Michael Sax of Bay Shore and Anthony Sarno of West Babylon. Each need 1,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Schaffer, criticized in the past for being too cozy with Boyle and Senate Republicans, warned that D’Amaro faces “a very tough race” and said Boyle has been “a very effective state senator for us in the Town of Babylon and has wide reach into many community groups. I’m not sure what case he’ll make against Phil, but if he’s the only Democrat in the race, he’ll have my support.”
Meanwhile, John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman, said Democrats appear headed to a primary and will spend until September “running to the left,” while Boyle has Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines. “That makes it an uphill battle for Democrats and bodes well for us,” he said.