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Editorial: A wake-up call for Suffolk's Steve Bellone

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks in Melville

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks in Melville on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Steve Bellone was not on the ballot Tuesday. But the Democratic Suffolk County executive still got very bad news from voters. John M. Kennedy Jr. is going to be looking over his shoulder every day.

Kennedy, the Republican county legislator from Nesconset and Bellone's principal foil, won handily the race for county comptroller and crowed at his victory celebration that he was going to throw open the county's financial books and have a long hard look.

That prospect probably already is creating nightmares for Bellone. But he also should wonder whether the results were a prelude to next year, when he presumably will run for a second term. Did Kennedy win because he was swept up in the GOP's strong showing in a host of other races, including Lee Zeldin and Tom Croci's respective wins over Tim Bishop and Adrienne Esposito? Or did Kennedy triumph because voters wanted a strong watchdog on county finances?

Bellone did get a win with the easy passage of a proposition to eliminate the elected position of county treasurer and merge its functions into the comptroller's office, a measure Kennedy strongly opposed. Bellone was the face of that proposition. So while it's often a mistake to read too much into a vote on someone's proxies, Bellone should be wondering what awaits him in 2015.