The departure of Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at...

The departure of Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at the end of the year has set off jockeying among Republicans, particularly, over candidates to replace him. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

As the 2023 race for Suffolk County executive begins to unfold, county Democratic leaders are touting their support for David Calone, but the Republican field is wide-open, with several elected officials saying they are interested in the job.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat first elected in 2011, has reached his term limit and cannot run again this year.

Calone, 49, of East Setauket, has worked as a federal and state prosecutor, and served as chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission.

He also is a former trustee of the Long Island Power Authority.

When Calone announced his candidacy in July, he touted a $1 million campaign war chest, which he says has grown to $1.7 million.

“The Suffolk County Democrats along with every single town committee ... are supporting Dave Calone and we’re excited about him,” said Keith Davies, a spokesman for the Suffolk County Democratic Committee.

Some Republicans are expressing hope that former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), will run after his strong showing on Long Island in the New York’s governor’s race in November.

In Suffolk County, Zeldin beat Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, by 289,077 votes to 223,688, according to the state Board of Elections.

In Nassau, Zeldin got 264,736 votes to Hochul's 222,305.

Statewide, Hochul won by a margin of 53% to 47%. 

“How he performed on Long Island last November in the race for governor shows that Lee Zeldin at this moment is the Republican Party's strongest candidate, by far," for county executive,” said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of Hofstra University’s National Center for Suburban Studies.

“Republicans and even some Democrats are waiting for Lee Zeldin to make up his mind," Levy said. "If he decides to run for county executive, a lot of Republicans will probably not make a go of it.”

Asked about his intentions in the Suffolk County executive's race, Zeldin said in a statement to Newsday last Thursday:

“Since Election Day, I have fielded many calls from people with their thoughts of various positions in government they would like me to pursue and I am very grateful to everyone for their passionate outreach. But I don’t have any update on that front to announce at this time.”

Other Suffolk County Republicans who told Newsday they were interested in the county executive's race include Comptroller John Kennedy, Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), the county legislature's presiding officer, and Legis. Trish Bergin (R-East Islip).

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, who is up for another four-year term as supervisor term in November, said he has not decided whether he will run for county executive.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Neil Foley said he has spoken with Republican Party leadership and is interested in running for county executive.

Jesse Garcia, the Suffolk GOP chairman, on Friday did not identify any potential county executive candidates by name, but said party officials were looking at a list of between seven and 10 possible candidates. The party likely will screen candidates late this month, Garcia said.

“We have candidates that are grounded in the private sector, public service; they have a record of accomplishments that are second to none,” Garcia told Newsday last week.

“I feel very, very hopeful and I'm cautiously optimistic that come November 2, a Republican will be elected to the county executive’s position,” Garcia said.

Suffolk Conservative chairman Mike Torres said that he expects to screen candidates within the next two weeks and likely will settle on a pick by early next month.

“We do bring everybody in and we'll look through … pedigree, credentials, the ability to deal with the unions, all these things are going to have to funnel into the final questions,” Torres told Newsday.  

Candidates can circulate nominating petitions beginning Feb. 28. Petitions are due to be filed with the Suffolk County Board of Elections between April 3 and 6.

With Michael Gormley

As the 2023 race for Suffolk County executive begins to unfold, county Democratic leaders are touting their support for David Calone, but the Republican field is wide-open, with several elected officials saying they are interested in the job.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat first elected in 2011, has reached his term limit and cannot run again this year.

Calone, 49, of East Setauket, has worked as a federal and state prosecutor, and served as chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission.

He also is a former trustee of the Long Island Power Authority.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • As the 2023 race for Suffolk County executive begins to unfold, county Democratic leaders are backing David Calone, but the Republican field still is wide-open.
  • Some Republicans are expressing hope that former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) will run, but he is noncommittal.
  • Other Republicans expressing interest include Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, county Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) and Islip Town Board member Trish Bergin.

When Calone announced his candidacy in July, he touted a $1 million campaign war chest, which he says has grown to $1.7 million.

“The Suffolk County Democrats along with every single town committee ... are supporting Dave Calone and we’re excited about him,” said Keith Davies, a spokesman for the Suffolk County Democratic Committee.

Some Republicans are expressing hope that former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), will run after his strong showing on Long Island in the New York’s governor’s race in November.

In Suffolk County, Zeldin beat Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, by 289,077 votes to 223,688, according to the state Board of Elections.

In Nassau, Zeldin got 264,736 votes to Hochul's 222,305.

Statewide, Hochul won by a margin of 53% to 47%. 

“How he performed on Long Island last November in the race for governor shows that Lee Zeldin at this moment is the Republican Party's strongest candidate, by far," for county executive,” said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of Hofstra University’s National Center for Suburban Studies.

“Republicans and even some Democrats are waiting for Lee Zeldin to make up his mind," Levy said. "If he decides to run for county executive, a lot of Republicans will probably not make a go of it.”

Asked about his intentions in the Suffolk County executive's race, Zeldin said in a statement to Newsday last Thursday:

“Since Election Day, I have fielded many calls from people with their thoughts of various positions in government they would like me to pursue and I am very grateful to everyone for their passionate outreach. But I don’t have any update on that front to announce at this time.”

Other Suffolk County Republicans who told Newsday they were interested in the county executive's race include Comptroller John Kennedy, Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), the county legislature's presiding officer, and Legis. Trish Bergin (R-East Islip).

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, who is up for another four-year term as supervisor term in November, said he has not decided whether he will run for county executive.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Neil Foley said he has spoken with Republican Party leadership and is interested in running for county executive.

Jesse Garcia, the Suffolk GOP chairman, on Friday did not identify any potential county executive candidates by name, but said party officials were looking at a list of between seven and 10 possible candidates. The party likely will screen candidates late this month, Garcia said.

“We have candidates that are grounded in the private sector, public service; they have a record of accomplishments that are second to none,” Garcia told Newsday last week.

“I feel very, very hopeful and I'm cautiously optimistic that come November 2, a Republican will be elected to the county executive’s position,” Garcia said.

Suffolk Conservative chairman Mike Torres said that he expects to screen candidates within the next two weeks and likely will settle on a pick by early next month.

“We do bring everybody in and we'll look through … pedigree, credentials, the ability to deal with the unions, all these things are going to have to funnel into the final questions,” Torres told Newsday.  

Candidates can circulate nominating petitions beginning Feb. 28. Petitions are due to be filed with the Suffolk County Board of Elections between April 3 and 6.

With Michael Gormley

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