Four Long Island seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are now Republican after Tuesday's midterm elections. NewsdayTV's Steve Langford reports.   Credit: Howard Schnapp

With Democrat Laura Gillen's concession of the 4th Congressional District race to Republican Anthony D'Esposito on Wednesday, the GOP took control of four U.S. House seats on Long Island for the first time since 1994 — the midterm election cycle dubbed the "Republican Revolution." 

The 4th District was one of two House seats that had been in Democratic hands for years before Republicans took them Tuesday. 

On Tuesday, the GOP kept control of the 1st and 2nd congressional districts in Suffolk and flipped the 3rd and 4th districts in Nassau with an anti-inflation and tough-on-crime message that, according to political experts and party officials, resonated strongly with Long Island voters. 

And while Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) lost the governor's race to Democrat Kathy Hochul, he brought out voters in Nassau and Suffolk counties in large numbers, boosting GOP candidates in local House and state Legislature races, party officials and election experts say.

"We selected the right candidates. We ran the right campaign. We responded to the needs of the people of the county. When these men go to Washington, they will represent us well and play a major role in the House," Nassau GOP Chairman Joseph Cairo said at a news conference Wednesday in Baldwin.

"It was a great night in Nassau County," Cairo said.

In Suffolk, Republican Nicholas LaLota, of Amityville, beat Democrat Bridget Fleming of Noyac in the 1st District race for an open seat that Zeldin is vacating.

Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) beat Democratic challenger Jackie Gordon in the 2nd District, which lies primarily in Suffolk but contains a section of Nassau.

In the open 3rd District in Nassau, Republican George Santos beat Democrat Robert Zimmerman, while in the 4th, D'Esposito beat Gillen by a margin of 52% to 48%, according to unofficial returns.

Lisa Parshall, a political-science professor at Daemen University in Western New York, said the impact of redistricting this year by a special master made the Long Island House races more competitive.

But she suggested state Democrats early on may not have focused closely enough on the House contests in Nassau and Suffolk, and may have been "distracted" in the final period by the tightening race between Hochul and Zeldin.

"It's not typical that New York congressional seats impact the balance of the House but again they [Democrats] knew this going into it," Parshall told Newsday. "It's all the more reason to have a strong ground game in the suburbs." 

Lawrence Levy, executive dean of suburban studies at Hofstra University, said Republican voters on Long Island were primed last year after the party won races for key offices such as district attorney.

This year, the GOP hawked a variation of the tough-on-crime messaging it used in 2021, Levy told Newsday. 

"Suburbanites in general value personal and financial security," Levy said.

But Long Island is "unlike other suburbs across the country" because it's so close to New York City where crime and the cost of living have become much-discussed issues.

"It's the perception Republicans were able to create around these fears that brings all Democrats into the same boat of blame," Levy said. 

Levy noted that Zeldin performed better than any other Republican who has run for statewide office since George Pataki upset incumbent Democrat Mario Cuomo in the governor's race in 1994.

During the 1994 midterm elections, the GOP also picked up 54 seats in the U.S. House, gaining the majority for the first time in 40 years.

In January of 1995, Long Island had four Republican House members: Michael Forbes; Rick Lazio; Peter King; and Dan Frisa.

Democrat Gary Ackerman also held a district that covered parts of Nassau and Queens. 

Former Democratic Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she believed there was nothing more Zimmerman and Gillen could've done Tuesday to blunt the Republican surge. 

"I was the canary in the coal mine and I have been yelling it from the rooftops," Curran said of her loss last year to Republican Bruce Blakeman.

"And here you had two very good candidates — both moderates who would have worked hard in Congress — and they were collateral damage," Curran told Newsday.


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