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Long IslandPolitics

Even with low turnout, LI primaries have surprising results

Margaret Cohn, Mineola, cast her ballot in the

Margaret Cohn, Mineola, cast her ballot in the primary election on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

And it’s another victory!

For Stanley Klein, that is. He’s the Long Island University professor who, earlier this week, correctly predicted the usual low voter turnout in Nassau and Suffolk for Tuesday’s primary elections.

Unofficial results for both counties show that turnout was lower than in previous off-year primary contests. “I am surprised,” Klein joked Wednesday.

Will it get better in the general elections? Klein, 90, who also is a Suffolk Republican committeeman, would have an informed opinion. But it’s too early to ask for it — too early to dash even an off-off election year hope that Long Islanders, come November, will get out and vote.

Still, those who voted — kudos! — made a difference.

In Suffolk, voters backed newcomer Larry Zacarese in the Republican primary for county sheriff — propelling him to a decisive victory over veteran state Sen. Phil Boyle, the official GOP nominee.

Zacarese was one of several first time candidates vying for their party’s designation in Nassau and Suffolk in the primaries.

First timers usually don’t win. Still, there are benefits for making a try. “First time candidates build recognition that will come in handy down the line should they decide to run again,” Klein said, “and they get experience in running for office.”

Any tips for first-timers? “It’s always helpful,” Klein said, “to know something about politics and something about the demands of the office they would like to hold.”

But the sheriff’s primary wasn’t the only eye-opener.

In Smithtown, the Republican primary for supervisor remained too close to call Wednesday between Supervisor Pat Vecchio — who waged a primary to keep his office after the GOP decided to go with another candidate — council member Edward Wehrheim on Wednesday.

Talk about the value of the vote:

Wehrheim was ahead by 39 votes Tuesday night — with absentee and affidavit ballot votes yet to be counted.

The big contest in Nassau was the Democratic primary between Laura Curran, the party designee, and George Maragos, who switched from Republican to Democrat to make the run.

Curran, according to unofficial results, beat Maragos by an unusually large margin for a primary — 79 percent to Maragos’ 21 percent. But residents who didn’t support Maragos were selective in their balloting. Ama Yawson, who was running for comptroller, and Carl DeHaney Jr., the clerk candidate — lost but received significantly more votes on their lines than Maragos, who was heading the ticket.

“In primaries, you don’t control the turnout, you create it,” said Michael Dawidziak, a political consultant who works mostly with Republican candidates. “Turnout traditionally is low in primaries so the candidate that gets their people to the polls wins,” he said.

The quest for votes begins anew as candidates now look toward general elections in November.

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