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Suffolk GOP taps Assemb. Dean Murray for 3rd district Senate race

State Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), was picked

State Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), was picked to succeed retiring state Sen. Tom Croci as the GOP's candidate for the 6th district to help preserve the party's majority in the November elections. Credit: James Escher

Suffolk Republicans at their convention Thursday night named Assemb. Dean Murray as their candidate to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Tom Croci in the Third State Senate District to help preserve the party’s majority in November’s election.

“Dean has led the fight perilously in debates . . . to protect Long Island taxpayers against the liberal-progressive New York City agenda of Mayor Bill de Blasio,” said Jesse Garcia, Brookhaven GOP chairman.

Murray was chosen before about 100 party activists at the Selden Fire Department over fellow GOP Assemb. Andrew Garbarino, based on the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport). Local GOP leaders deferred to Senate Republicans as they have extensive polling data and are expected to fund the bulk of the campaign.

“We have two great assemblymen, but the district leans a little towards Brookhaven and so did the polling,” said John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman.

Although party officials said it was a close call, 55 percent of Croci’s district is in Brookhaven, Murray’s home. Murray, 53, of East Patchogue, is friends with Garbarino, 33, of Bayport, whose father, William Garbarino, is Islip Republican chairman. The elder Garbarino seconded Murray’s nomination in a show of unity.

Republicans also nominated Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. for a second term and County Clerk Judith Pascale, 70, for a fourth term, even though GOP Islip Town Board member Trish Bergin-Wiechbrodt also screened with Suffolk Conservatives on Wednesday for clerk. Bergin-Wiechbrodt, 47, who has support among Conservatives, said she went for the screening only in case Pascale might have been considering retirement.

Left unclear in last night’s convention was whom Nassau and Suffolk Republicans will name in the Ninth Assembly District, won in an upset last year by Democratic Assemb. Christine Pellegrino of West Islip.

Suffolk Republicans designated Ed Wiggins, a retired Babylon Landfill manager and part-time aide to State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), as their candidate, though the Nassau GOP is backing Michael LiPetri of Farmingdale, who has gained the backing of the state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long.

Suffolk GOP officials said they expect local Conservative party officials to lobby Long to change his position.

Frank Tinari, Suffolk Conservative chairman, reached on Thursday night, said he lobbied with Long earlier in the day but the state leader continues to back LiPetri and Suffolk Conservatives will carry his nominating petitions.

In other Senate races, Republicans named Sen. Kenneth LaValle for the First District; Sen. John Flanagan for the Second; Sen Phil Boyle for the Fourth; and Sen Carl Marcellino for the Fifth. In the Eighth district, the GOP named Jeff Pravato.

In the Assembly, the GOP named Patrick O’Connor for the First District; Assemb. Anthony Palumbo for the Second; Assemb Joseph DeStephano for the Third; Christian Kalinowski for the Fourth; Assemb. Doug Smith for the Fifth; Assemb. Andrew Garbarino for the Seventh; Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick for the Eighth; Kevin Sabella for the 11th; and Assemb. Andrew Raia for the 12th.

Suffolk Republicans have not yet named Assembly candidates for the Sixth District to take on Democratic incumbent Phil Ramos of Brentwood or fellow Democrat Steve Stern of Dix Hills, who recently won a special election to represent the 10th District.

Republicans made no nominations for countywide judgeships as talks continued with other parties about possible cross endorsements.

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