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Monica Martinez victory the result of get-out-the-vote effort

Suffolk legislative District 9 Democratic primary winner Monica

Suffolk legislative District 9 Democratic primary winner Monica Martinez outside her campaign office in Brentwood. (Sept. 11, 2013) Credit: Chuck Fadely

When Tony Martinez knocked on a Brentwood door late Tuesday to get out the vote for his sister Monica in a Democratic legislative primary, the woman who answered said the family had already gotten the word to cast ballots.

"She said her sister, a third-year student at Brown University, had phoned home telling everyone to vote for her former teacher," said Martinez, co-chairman of Steve Bellone's 2011 transition team and manager of his sister Monica Martinez's campaign.

Political newcomer Monica Martinez, 36, an assistant principal at East Middle School in Brentwood, swamped 10-year incumbent Legis. Rick Montano in the 9th District primary with a well-financed campaign -- aided by money from Bellone and various party committees -- that relied heavily on paid and volunteer ground troops to get out the vote.

"It was a collaboration of everyone -- former students, volunteers and campaign staff," said Martinez, who was on the job Wednesday at East Middle School. She said she received congratulations from teachers and students as well as emails from about 30 former students.

But Martinez, who said she knocked on 2,000 doors for the primary, said she is not letting up: "I'm going to push as hard as I did in the primary. We're not done till Nov. 5."

While past primary turnouts in the district have run as low as 6.1 percent, 10.1 percent of the district's Democratic voters turned out Tuesday. Before primary day, Montano predicted that 800 votes would win, but his 759 votes fell slightly short of his goal, while Martinez turned out 1,329, or 64 percent of the vote.

"There is nothing we could have done differently," said Montano, who is still on the Working Families ballot line Nov. 5. "We were swamped by money, people and blindsided after the convention. It is what it is. I respect the result."

Jerry Pallotta, the Islip Democratic chairman, said, "I believe Democratic voters have spoken and have chosen Monica to be their representative at this point. It may be the honorable thing to do for Rick to step aside and let the party unite around Monica."

Pallotta, however, said he has not spoken to the lawmaker or Working Families officials.

Montano declined to comment on how actively he planned to campaign as the minor-party candidate: "I'm not saying what I'm going to do."

Meanwhile, in the 13th Legislative District's Republican primary, police Det. Rob Trotta, with 57 percent of the vote, decisively beat each of his opponents: GOP designee Paul Hennings, who got 22 percent, and labor leader Mario Mattera, 21 percent.

Trotta, 52, a 25-year police veteran and Kings Park civic leader, said his vow to retire from the department and work full-time as a legislator on county fiscal issues resonated with voters. Trotta said he knocked on 2,000 doors during the primary campaign, which saw a 17.85 percent turnout. Trotta now will face Democrat Elaine Turley in the November election.

In the 8th Legislative District, Democrat William Lindsay III, seeking to succeed his father, who died Wednesday, is narrowly leading Anthony Gralto for the Working Families ballot line -- 12 to 10 in unofficial vote returns. Election officials say there are still four absentee votes to be counted.


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