Former State Sen. Jack Martins.

Former State Sen. Jack Martins. Credit: James Escher

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When Republican Jack Martins first ran for State Senate in 2010, he attacked an Albany power balance that had, for two years, rested all control of state government with Democrats. Martins had plenty to attack. The city-centric Democratic conferences had done exactly what Republicans always claimed they would if empowered: catered to city interests at the expense of Long Island. Martins and a Republican Senate majority swept in on opposition to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll tax for which Long Island’s two Democratic senators had voted, and a promise to reverse funding shifts taking money from many Long Island school districts.

In Albany, Martins helped secure the property tax cap and middle-class income tax cuts.

Now Martins, 55, of Mineola, is again running against full Democratic control of the state. This year’s big MTA issue, teed up for Martins to oppose, is congestion pricing. The tolling of Manhattan’s central business district has supporters and detractors divided along familiar lines. As was the case before, many suburbanites don’t want to fund a transit system they see as wasteful. And if fees drive more commuters to the Long Island Rail Road, Martins asks where they will find parking near stations.

Like most GOP candidates, Martins also has seized on recent changes to the criminal code being linked to public safety concerns. Bail reform benefited from support of Long Island’s Democratic senators, infuriating many Long Islanders.

On both issues, his opposition is shortsighted. Martins may be right on the parking issue, but that can be ameliorated. And while he says the "easy fix" to bail reform is to repeal recent changes, he knows that is unrealistic.

Yet the broader feeling that Long Island’s interests again need passionate defending is real. And Martins is a shrewd, experienced and pragmatic defender of those interests.

He also was among the first to embrace transit-oriented development during his six years as Mineola mayor, and helped broker the deal that got Nassau County its gambling machines, albeit in Queens.

Two-term incumbent Democrat Anna M. Kaplan, 57, of Port Washington, passed bills to stop the sale of unregistered “ghost guns” and require that schools teach about the Holocaust. She says her main emphasis is constituent service, and her track record is admirable. But so is her opponent’s.

On bail reform, Kaplan has seemed happy with each rendition her party passes, then regretful when opponents attack it. And she has too often been unable to sway Democratic leaders deaf to Long Island’s priorities, as when her lukewarm support of an Amazon headquarters in Long Island City failed to slow the party's block of the project.

Both Kaplan and Martins have previously received this endorsement. This year, Long Island needs a bare-knuckled advocate, one who has standing to build a long-needed bipartisan suburban coalition.

Newsday endorses Martins.

ENDORSEMENTS ARE DETERMINED solely by the Newsday editorial board, a team of opinion journalists focused on issues of public policy and governance. Newsday’s news division has no role in this process.