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Thomas Suozzi wins, sets up rematch against Edward Mangano

Democratic nominatiee for Nassau county executive Thomas Suozzi

Democratic nominatiee for Nassau county executive Thomas Suozzi stands with his wife Helene and speaks to supporters in Glen Cove after his Democratic primary election victory. (Sept. 10, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi won his Democratic primary Tuesday, setting up a rematch against the man who beat him four years ago, Republican Edward Mangano.

His primary opponent, East Hills businessman Adam Haber, conceded defeat as Suozzi racked up 59 percent of the vote with 99 percent of the precincts counted.

Even before the polls closed, Suozzi had been promising not to repeat the mistakes he made in his 2009 loss to Mangano by 386 votes.

"In 2009, I simply did not work hard enough, but I've been working 12- to 14-hour days," Suozzi said after voting in the morning in his hometown of Glen Cove. "I'm taking this race very seriously, and I'm taking the general election seriously."

And after clinching the rematch, Suozzi told supporters Tuesday night: "I am excited to get back into the fight."

In his concession speech, Haber told his supporters: "I will continue to be an advocate for everyone in this room. Thank you for believing in me; I will continue to believe in you."

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota easily won a Republican primary and heads toward a third term with no opponent in the general election.

His challenger, criminal defense attorney Raymond Perini, conceded as Spota rolled up 56 percent of the vote with all 1,052 precincts uncounted.

"We ran a textbook campaign. Our message was solid. We'll be back another day," Perini said from a steakhouse in Central Islip, where he and about 50 supporters had gathered to view results.

Spota, who was first elected in 2001, declined to comment.

There was a big upset in the Democratic primary in the 9th Legislative District in Suffolk, where newcomer Monica Martinez defeated veteran Suffolk Legis. Rick Montano, 63 percent to 36 percent.

Montano, 63, had run without opposition since he first was elected in 2003. Martinez, 36, is the sister of Tony Martinez, the co-chair of County Executive Steve Bellone's transition team two years ago.

"This community is starving for representation," said Martinez, as the returns came in. "The people are tired of not being represented, of not being heard . . . of their votes being taken for granted."

Longtime Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio beat back a challenge from Robert J. Creighton in a Republican primary. With all the votes counted, Vecchio had 59 percent to Creighton's 44 percent.

The supervisor thanked supporters, saying, "It was a victory of the people. The victory is not so much mine as it is all of yours."

Creighton conceded shortly after 10 p.m., telling supporters, "We ran a very good race. We gave it the best shot we can do. . . . We lost to a 35-year incumbent. . . . I really thought we could pull it off."

Vecchio is the longest-tenured town supervisor in Long Island history and needed to win the primary to appear on the November ballot. Creighton is a seven-year Smithtown councilman who is also a former chief investigator for the Suffolk County district attorney's office.

In the only other countywide race in Suffolk, Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco easily fended off a challenge from Suffolk Police Officer Samuel Barreto Jr. in a Republican primary. With all precincts counted, DeMarco had 68 percent to Barreto's 32 percent.

Polls closed at 9 p.m. after 15 hours of voting in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Turnout was in the low teens, at best, and perhaps lower than 10 percent, according to official estimates.

Turnout was higher in localities such as Riverhead and Smithtown, where there were contests for district or town offices.

Crowds of Suozzi supporters, party officials and county lawmakers flooded into the Glen Cove Polish Hall Tuesday night to watch the election results come in. Many sat in folding chairs watching President Barack Obama's speech on Syria to the American people while sipping drinks purchased at a cash bar.

Haber, an East Hills businessman and Roslyn school board member, voted at East Hills Village Hall about 9 a.m. and joked with Board of Elections workers when they handed him the wrong ballot, which did not have his name.

"Are you a Suozzi agent?" Haber asked the poll workers as he laughed.

Suozzi, joined by his wife, Helene, cast his ballot at Robert M. Finley Middle School in Glen Cove about 10 a.m., greeting and shaking hands with poll workers.

In Massapequa Park, poll workers at the John P. McKenna Elementary School said at 7 p.m. that turnout had been slow all day. A sampling of four election districts at the site indicated a turnout of about 5 percent of eligible voters.

At Plainview's Stratford Road Elementary School, voting was "slow," election officials said early in the day, with about 20 voters having cast ballots by 9 a.m. Not unexpected, they added, for a primary.

By 3:30 p.m., 70 of the 1,304 eligible voters in the three districts covered at the polling station had voted.

A couple stopping by didn't have to wait, and were in and out in less than five minutes.

Another couple, April and Michael Oksenhendler of Plainview, said they voted for Suozzi over Haber in the Democratic primary.

"I think I know a little more about Suozzi," said Michael Oksenhendler, 64, a retired financial officer for Standard & Poor's.

Jeff Eistew, 59, of Plainview, said he was supporting Haber. "It's time for a change," he said, but added: "I don't think he's going to win."

With Mackenzie Issler, Gary Dymski, Ted Phillips, Scott Eidler, Patrick Whittle, Deon J. Hampton, Sid Cassese and Laura Figueroa

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