Republican Elaine Phillips successfully battled Democrat Adam Haber Tuesday night to capture the only open State Senate seat on Long Island while four other local senate incumbents won tight races for re-election.
Any upset on Long Island could have shifted control of the State Senate, which now has 31 Democrats, 31 Republicans and one vacancy in a Democratic district. The GOP has maintained the majority through unusual alliances and needed Republican victories on Long Island to continue the party’s hold on power.
Phillips, 56, mayor of Flower Hill Village, defeated Haber, 51, an East Hills businessman, for the 7th District senate seat vacated by State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), who was making a run for Congress. Haber lost to Martins two years ago.
Veteran Republican State Sen. Carl Marcellino of Syosset won a tight race against Democrat James Gaughran of Northport for the 5th District, which includes Oyster Bay in Nassau and Huntington in Suffolk. Marcellino, 73, has served in the senate since winning a special election in 1995. Gaughran, 59, is a former Huntington Town councilman and former Suffolk County legislator. He is now chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority.
State Sen. Michael Venditto, a Republican from Massapequa, had a slim edge in the 8th District, which includes parts of Nassau and Suffolk, against challenger John Brooks, a Republican from Seaford running on the Democratic line. Venditto, 35, has been dogged by federal corruption charges filed against his father, Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto. The allegations boosted the campaign of Brooks, 66, a retired insurance executive and former Seaford School Board member. John Venditto has pleaded not guilty.
Michael Venditto is not connected to the charges against his father.
State Sen. Todd Kaminksy, of Long Beach, the only Democrat among Long Island’s current nine-member senate delegation, won re-election in the 9th District Senate contest against Republican Christopher McGrath, of Hewlett. Kaminsky, 38, a former federal prosecutor and state assemblyman, defeated McGrath, 57, a private practice lawyer in a special election last April for the vacant seat of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) who was convicted of federal corruption charges last year. Also in the race was Green Party candidate Laurence Hirsh, 57, of Valley Stream.
Longtime State Sen. Kemp Hannon, 70, a Republican from Garden City, has run close races since he was elected in 1989 but has always eked out a victory. Tuesday night, he soundly defeated Garden City Democrat Ryan Cronin, 35, an attorney in private practice who ran unsuccessfully against Hannon in 2012.
As expected, Republicans won the remaining four Suffolk-based State Senate districts.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan of East Northport easily defeated Democrat Peter Magistrale, 25, of St. James and Libertarian Stephen Ruth, 43, of Centereach for the 2nd District seat. Flanagan, 55, who is seeking his eighth term in the senate, spent most of last weekend campaigning for Nassau Republican senate candidates.
In the 1st District, veteran Republican State Sen. Kenneth LaValle, 77, of Port Jefferson beat Democrat Gregory-John Fischer, 59, a business consultant from Calverton.
In the 3rd District, State Sen. Thomas Croci, 44, a Republican from Sayville, ran far ahead of challengers Democrat John DeVito, Jr., 25, of Mastic Beach and Democrat Joseph Fritz, 71, of Brentwood, who was running on the Women’s Equality line.
Fourth District incumbent Philip Boyle, 55, a Republican from Bay Shore, easily defeated Democrat John Alberts, 33 of North Babylon.