Long Islanders part of fight in state Legislature for greater influence on legislation, spending
ALBANY — Long Island Democrats in Tuesday’s elections fought to strengthen the party's majorities in the Senate and Assembly, while Republicans tried to flip seats to gain more influence in legislation and spending in Albany.
The fierce fight on Long Island was clear in the 5th Senate District, where Republican Steven Rhoads of Bellmore declared victory over Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), a Democrat who held the seat since 2016. Still, the margin was close as votes were being counted into Wednesday. Rhoads is a Nassau County legislator and was key to the Republican Party's effort to flip Democratic seats and end the Democrats’ supermajority in the Senate, which is required for the Senate to contribute to overriding a governor’s veto.
Republicans were also targeting the 9th Senate District, which is an open seat created when Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) retired. On Tuesday, Republican Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick of Malverne was in a tight battle with Democrat Kenneth Moore of Bellerose, where he was a village board member and mayor.
“It's amazing that we were able to get our message out about the fact that the state is going in the wrong direction," Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. "What this is about is getting our state back on track. And I can't wait to go to Albany to advocate for all of you."
Republican Sen. Alexis Weik appeared to win another term in the 8th Senate District against Democrat John Alberts.
In the 7th Senate District, Republican Jack Martins of Old Westbury, a former state senator and former mayor of Mineola, declared victory over Democratic Sen. Anna Kaplan of North Hills, who was seeking her third term.
"We all knew that this is the year where we're going to draw the line in the sand," Martins said. "And we're going to stand up to make sure we protected our communities and kept our families save and send the message to Albany. That enough is enough. And guess what? Right here in Nassau County, once again, we stood up and we're going back to Albany."
In all, nine Senate seats on Long Island including three open seats were among the 63 Senate posts up for election. The races often pitted progressive Democrats against Republicans running on the party’s law-and-order platform.
In the 150-seat Assembly, 22 seats represent Long Island districts and 12 were held by Republicans going into Tuesday’s election. And while the Long Island seats in the Assembly don’t have the direct clout on state government exercised by Long Islanders in the smaller Senate, Assembly incumbents from Long Island have significant leadership posts and influence within their Republican and Democratic conferences.
Early returns were also too close to call other races. Those key races on Long Island included:
-In the 1st Senate District, Sen Kenneth Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) who is in his first term, faced Democrat Skyler Johnson of Mount Sinai, who works for the nonprofit New Hour for Women and Children LI.
-In the 2nd Senate District, Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James), in his first term, faced Democrat Susan Berland of Dix Hills, a former Suffolk County legislator.
-In the 3rd Senate District, Republican Dean Murray of East Patchogue, a former Assembly member, faced Democrat Farzeen Bham, a Stony Brook University student from Coram. This is a newly drawn district under the state’s redistricting process and each party saw a strong chance of gaining a seat through the contest.
-In the 4th Senate District, Democrat Monica Martinez (D-Wyandanch), a former 3rd District senator, faced Republican Wendy Rodriguez, a real estate agent. This is another newly drawn district.
-In the 6th Senate District, Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), who has been in office since 2018, was leading Republican James Coll of Seaford, a former NYPD officer.
Senate Democrats held a 43-20 supermajority going into Tuesday’s elections. Republicans needed to win at least two seats to end the supermajority, which could secure the Legislature's power to override vetoes by the governor. Republicans needed to flip 12 seats to take the majority.
Democrats have a 107-42 supermajority in the Assembly with one vacancy in a seat that was held by a Republican. Republicans would need to reach 51 seats to end the Democrats' supermajority. The marquee races in the Assembly included Democrats who have held powerful committee chairmanships and Republicans who have become leaders of the GOP conference in the Democrat-led Assembly.
-In the 1st Assembly District, Assemb. Fred Thiele (D-Sag Harbor), who has been in the office since 1995, faced Republican Peter Ganley, Cutchogue, who is a former staffer for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who ran for governor this year.
-In the 4th Assembly District, Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket), who has been in office since 1992, faced Republican Edward Flood of Brookhaven, who is an assistant town attorney on environmental issues. Englebright is the powerful chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.
-In the 8th Assembly District, Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) faced Democrat Jeanine Aponte of Hauppauge. Fitzpatrick has been in office since 2002.
-In the 13th Assembly District, Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) was leading Republican Ruka Anzai of Jericho, a computer specialist. Lavine is chairman of the powerful Law Committee that investigated sexual harassment accusations against former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, which led to his resignation in August 2021. He was first elected to the Assembly in 2004.
-In the 19th Assembly District, Assemb. Edward Ra of Garden City South and Republican leader in the chamber was leading Democrat Sanjeev Kumar Jindal of Williston Park, who owns an insurance business.
-In the 22nd Assembly District, Assemb. Michaelle Solages, an Elmont Democrat, was leading Republican Cara Castronuova, of Elmont, a fitness trainer and boxer. Solages was first elected to the chamber in 2012 and is the Assembly’s deputy majority leader as well as chairwoman of the influential Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian legislative caucus.
With John Asbury and Rick Brand