Freshman Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) easily fended off his challenger last night in the closely watched 1st Congressional District, while Democrat Thomas Suozzi beat Republican Jack Martins in their race for the open 3rd Congressional District seat.
Though overshadowed by the presidential election, the two House races garnered by far the most attention of the five on Long Island.
Outside spending totaled $1.2 million in the 3rd District, which stretches across the north shore from Western Suffolk to Eastern Queens, and topped $3 million in the 1st District covering Suffolk’s East End.
In the 3rd District, where Democratic Rep. Steve Israel is retiring, Suozzi, the former Nassau County executive, claimed victory over Martins, a state senator from Old Westbury. His margin was roughly 6 points, according to the state board of elections, giving him his return to elected office for the first time since 2009.
“Everybody loves a comeback story,” Suozzi said at a party at the Milleridge Inn in Jericho. “It was a lot of ups and a lot of downs over the years. Winning is a lot better than losing.”
Martins, who gave up his state senate seat to run for Congress, conceded early Wednesday at the Nassau GOP’s gathering in Westbury.
“We saw the race come together and we came up short,” Martins said, noting that early polling had him down 16 points. “For us to be here so close to Election Day a testament to our volunteers.”
In the 1st District, Zeldin claimed victory over Democrat Anna Throne-Holst, a former Southampton town supervisor, early in the evening. He won by 17 points.
“A powerful message was sent all around the first congressional district today. A powerful message was sent all throughout the state of New York and all around America,” Zeldin said after taking the stage to a standing ovation from supporters at the Emporium nightclub in Patchogue. “Your love for America powered this ticket to a big win. It’s because of each and every one of you.”
“You think of what that young man has done,” Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle said of Zeldin. “He hit the ground running he became a national TV star talking about veterans affairs, foreign affairs and the things that are most important to our families.”
Zeldin, who took firm conservative positions on most national issues, was initially believed to be vulnerable in a perennial tossup district that a Democrat had held for the decade prior.
But Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump performed well in the district, and Throne-Holst never gained footing. A Newsday/Siena College poll last week showed her trailing by more than 20 points.
“We did the best we could to get the message out and the chips fell where they did,” Throne-Holst said from Suffolk Democrats’ gathering.
In the other Long Island races:
— Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) handily defeated Democrat DuWayne Gregory, the Suffolk County legislature’s presiding officer, in the 2nd District race.
King, whose blunt-spoken nature and national security expertise make him a unique figure both locally and nationally, wasn’t targeted by national Democrats — despite Democrats now outnumbering Republicans in his South Shore district.
— Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) secured her second term representing Nassau’s 4th District by defeating Republican David Gurfein, a retired U.S. Marine lieutenant colonel who lives in Manhasset — outside the district.
— Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) defeated Republican Michael O’Reilly and Green Party member Frank Francois in the 5th District, which covers a sliver of western Nassau. Meeks won his 10th term.
With Carl MacGowan, John Asbury, Rick Brand and Sarah Armaghan.