In a game of political musical chairs, Suffolk Republicans and Democrats made last-minute candidate changes Thursday in four Assembly contests.
Democrats named two former elected officials -- both ex-Republicans -- for two of the races. Edward Hennessey of East Moriches, a former GOP Brookhaven Town Board member, was chosen to run against GOP incumbent Dean Murray of East Patchogue, who is seeking his second full term in the 2nd Assembly District.
Former Islip Town Board member Christopher Bodkin of West Sayville was named to run for the seat in the 8th District now left vacant because Assemb. Philip Boyle (R-Bay Shore) is running for retiring state Sen. Owen Johnson's seat.
Republicans, meanwhile, named attorney Andrew Garbarino, 27, of Sayville to run against Bodkin, and attorney Chad Lupinacci, 33, of Huntington Station to run in place of veteran GOP 10th District Assemb. James Conte, who is suffering from cancer and decided not to seek re-election after more than two decades in Albany.
Democrats named new candidates after Leonard Levy of Shirley, who was running against Murray, and Victor Salamone of Holbrook, who was originally named to run against Boyle, declined the nominations last week. Salamone instead will run against Assemb. Al Graf (R-Holbrook) in the 5th District.
Hennessey, 50, served on the town board for 12 years and practiced law in Shirley for the past two decades, but he currently lives outside the Assembly district. He ran and lost a bid for town supervisor in 2005 and narrowly lost a comeback bid for town board in 2007.
Hennessey said he knows the communities in the district well as a town board member, and as a majority Democrat would be in the best position to deliver for the new district.
Kevin Malloy, a spokesman for Murray, said the Assemblyman "will run on his record of accomplishment."
Bodkin, 65, a 16-year town board veteran, survived a bruising GOP primary against the town GOP organization in 2005, but later lost in 2009 after he switched parties and became a Democrat.
Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said the former incumbents will energize the party and create competitive races."They were both outstanding officials and will make a strong addition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's reform team," said Schaffer.
John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman, could not be reached for comment.
Lupinacci also teaches at Hofstra University and the State University at Farmingdale and is a member of the South Huntington school board. His opponent is Democrat Joseph Dujmic, 33, an attorney from Huntington Station making his first run for office.
Garbarino is also making his first run for office, but has been active in the town GOP.