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A spooky turn for Republicans

Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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Daily Point

More trick than treat for LI Republicans

This may be a spooky Halloween for Long Island Republicans.

Voter registration and absentee-ballot completion data from the county boards of elections indicate an uptick in enthusiasm for Democrats.

The number of people registered as Democrats in Suffolk County jumped by 22,965 in 2018 (including enrollment changes and new voters). In 2014, that increase was 8,418, the last midterm. Since 2010, only 2016, a presidential year, saw a higher jump for Democrats.

Republican enrollments increased this year, but by much less, 8,470. Those choosing no party also rose in 2018, by 14,958.

Suffolk also saw a bump in new absentee ballot requests: 6,775 for Democrats, 5,077 for Republicans, and 4,440 others as of Friday. Those are smaller figures, but still a 244 percent increase in new requests for Democrats since 2014 vs. a 123 percent increase for Republicans.

The situation was more mixed in Nassau County. Total Republican and Democratic voter registration actually dipped, likely due to a purge of inactive voters, with Democrats still on top. But there was a partisan gap in total absentee ballot requests as of Wednesday: 14,223 for Democrats, 9,806 for Republicans, and 5,630 blanks.

The large number of new absentee requests and registrations for blanks, who could go to one party or the other, makes it hard to say definitively that Democrats have an edge. But it indicates a level of enthusiasm, especially in Suffolk, where there are two hotly contested congressional races, not often seen for the midterm.

Mark Chiusano

Talking Point

Raising Long Island’s profile

Despite how important many Long Islanders think we are, the truth is that when most people think of hip New York, Long Island is rarely part of the equation.

Kristen Jarnagin, the president and chief executive of Discover Long Island, the region’s official tourism agency, visited Newsday on Wednesday to talk about Long Island’s $5.9 billion tourism industry, and to discuss how the agency works to garner both international awareness for the island and promote the region as a young, vibrant and diverse place for both tourists and native LIers.

Discover Long Island brings in much-needed tourism dollars to the island — Jarnagin said the industry generated $722 million in local and state tax revenues last year — and an influx of tourists to the region means more jobs, mostly for local restaurants and other mom-and-pop businesses. Jarnagin said tourism is responsible for roughly 82,000 jobs in Nassau and Suffolk.

But aside from the financial benefits of Long Island’s tourism industry, generating positive word of mouth among both residents and visitors is key to Discover Long Island’s long-term success. While its main purpose is not to get tourists to put down roots in the area, its work is important nonetheless because it raises the profile of the region.

That makes the agency’s mission parallel to that of many organizations seeking to entice more young families to explore the area and see the opportunities it has to offer.

Michael Cusanelli

Pencil Point

Goodbye Merkel

Reference Point

Advocating against “death traps”

Food fights over transportation dollars have existed as long as there have been transportation dollars.

Newsday’s editorial board has weighed in on the topic from its very first days, too. In the last week of October 1941, barely a year after Newsday began publication, the board even went after a Rockville Centre daily newspaper for advocating that state transportation funds be diverted from safety measures in order to build more Robert Moses-planned highways. Newsday strongly opposed that idea.

Voters were asked that November to approve the taking of $60 million for the elimination of grade crossings on the Long Island Rail Road and spend it instead on highways and parkways.

The board wrote that the Rockville Centre paper’s editorial urging a yes vote was “misleading” and made its own case for voting down the proposal. Among the reasons: Moving the money to highways would allow only 37 dangerous crossings to be eliminated when Nassau County had 130 of what the board called “death traps.”

After comparing the newspapers’ respective arguments about safety, Newsday’s editorial board concluded 77 years ago that, “Lives should come ahead of politics.”

Another timeless verity.

Michael Dobie