A key Democratic incumbent appeared to be losing in a nail-biter of a race, according to results Tuesday night for the Suffolk County Legislature, where Democrats had looked to hold on to their 11-7 advantage.
In the 8th Legislative District, incumbent William J. Lindsay III, a Democrat, was behind by 223 votes to Anthony A. Piccirillo, a Republican, according to results posted on the Suffolk County Board of Elections website, with all districts reporting.
Suffolk Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer said the party will ask for a recount. "We’re going to go to paper,” he said, adding that he still expects Lindsay to be “victorious.”
Piccirillo said he was "cautiously optimistic" he will retain his lead after the recount.
He attribributed his strong showing to "hard work," saying he knocked on 11,000 doors this year and 10,000 two years ago when he narrowly lost to Lindsay. “21,000 doors in two cycles is a lot of doors," he said, adding that the "Rocky" theme song that played for him at Suffolk GOP headquarters was no coincidence.
"I've been an underdog my whole life. ... I've always been behind the eight-ball ... we had a puncher's chance and we connected," he said.
Lindsay was behind by about 1 percentage point, or 223 votes out of nearly 18,000 cast. If he were to lose, the balance in the legislature would go to 10-8 in favor of the Democrats.
Piccirillo lost to Lindsay by 244 votes two years ago. He defeated Lindsay this year in primaries for the Conservative and Independence Party ballot lines for their rematch.
Schaffer had predicted it would be a tough race for Lindsay or any Democrat this year because Donald Trump took the district by a huge margin in the 2016 presidential race.
"I wasn't surprised at all by how close this is," Schaffer said. "It's a very tough area and there is a very partisan electorate out there because of the national stuff."
Jesse Garcia, chairman of the Suffolk GOP, said, "This was two years in the coming. It demonstrated that hard work and a common-sense approach to government and votes for red light cameras and higher spending, higher debt, are going to be rejected by the voters of this county."
The 8th District seat was seen as the GOP’s best shot at reducing Democrats’ 11-7 legislative majority. And a two-seat swing could have created a 9-9 deadlock, which could put selection of the next legislative presiding officer into the hands of Republican County Clerk Judith Pascale.
Garcia said Republicans increased their seats from 6 to 7 in the last election, and were hoping to win even more Tuesday.
But Schaffer said he saw little chance of the Republicans changing the balance in the legislature.
“I’m confident that the Democrats will retain control,” he said. He expected Democrats to go as high as a 12-6 advantage, with a worst-case scenario of a 10-8 advantage. Garcia said that if Republicans flipped just two seats, they would have a 9-9 tie.
The races and results were:
1st District Incumbent Democrat Al Krupski beat Republican candidate Remy Bell
2nd District Incumbent Democrat Bridget Fleming defeated Republican Linda A. Kabot
3rd District Incumbent Republican Rudy A. Sunderman bested Democratic candidate Daryl Edelstein and Libertarian candidate Lynda Frego
4th District Incumbent Republican Tom Muratore beat Democratic candidate David T. Bligh and Libertarian candidate Stephen Ruth
5th District Incumbent Democrat Kara Hahn defeated Republican incumbent John McCormack
6th District Incumbent Democrat Sarah S. Anker bested Republican candidate Gary D. Pollakusky and Conservative candidate James J. Kevins Jr.
7th District Incumbent Democrat Robert Calarco defeated Republican candidate Dominick S. Thorne)
8th District Incumbent Democrat William J. Lindsay III was locked in a tight race with Republican candidate Anthony A. Piccirillo
9th District Incumbent Democrat Samuel Gonzalez beat Republican candidate Maria D. Vidal
10th District Incumbent Republican Tom Cilmi defeated Democratic candidate Joseph G. Hagelmann
11th District Incumbent Republican Steven J. Flotteron bested Democratic candidate Joseph E. McDermott and Conservative candidate Joan Manahan
12th District Incumbent Republican Leslie Kennedy beat Democratic candidate Margot E. Rosenthal
13th District Incumbent Republican Robert Trotta defeated Democratic candidate Janet C. Singer
14th District Incumbent Republican Kevin McCaffrey bested Democratic candidate Thomas A. Gargiulo
15th District Democrat DuWayne Gregory, the presiding officer, beat Republican candidate Christopher G. Connors
16th District Incumbent Democrat Susan A. Berland defeated Republican candidate Hector P. Gavilla
17th District Incumbent Democrat Tom Donnelly beat Republican candidate Rebecca L. Lonardo and Libertarian candidate Michael S. McDermott
18th District Incumbent Democrat William Spencer defeated Republican candidate Garrett A. Chelius and Conservative candidate Daniel West
With Nicholas Spangler