Suffolk Legis. Jack Eddington, an Independence Party member who has been part of the 11-member Democratic majority, has decided not to seek re-election, making it harder for Democrats to keep control of the legislature this fall, party sources say.
Eddington, who is expected to make a formal announcement Tuesday, joins two other Democrats, Legis. Jon Cooper of Lloyd Harbor and Vivian Viloria-Fisher of East Setauket who are term-limited and cannot run for re-election. Their departures will diminish the 11-member Democratic majority coalition to only eight incumbents seeking re-election.
Eddington did not return calls, but sources say that Eddington, 64, a former school social worker, wants to retire to spend more time with his family and grandchildren. His wife, Patricia, is a former Assemblywoman and currently Brookhaven Town clerk.
However, critics say Eddington's decision comes in the wake of the local GOP victories of Assemb. Dean Murray of East Patchogue and State Sen. Lee Zeldin of Shirley. "We're putting that race on top of our priority list," said John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman. "The reality is that Jack Eddington heard the footsteps."
Eddington, first elected in 2005, was first a member of the labor-backed Working Families Party, but switched to the Independence line after intraparty squabbles. While he first won election with the strong backing of County Executive Steve Levy, then a Democrat, Eddington has clashed repeatedly with Levy in the past two years, largely over police issues. "Regardless of who runs, it's a seat we plan on winning," said Levy, a newly minted Republican. "That seat has been far too liberal for far too long."
Party officials say Eddington aide Rob Calarco will be the Democrat's likely candidate to succeed the Medford lawmaker. Calarco ran a losing race last year against Murray, 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent. Among the Republican contenders are Patchogue Village attorney Brian Egan; John Giannott, a Bellport restaurant owner, and Leah Jefferson, who once lost an Assembly race to Eddington's wife.
"Jack served the district well and he will certainly be missed," said Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman. "But Rob will be a good candidate and an outstanding legislator."