Sen. Kenneth LaValle says he reminds his staff, "1st District first." But his influence goes much further. He and a colleague from upstate, both first elected when Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976, share the distinction of most senior senator. He says his longevity means clout for Long Island, particularly if he and other Republicans share or win control of the Senate.

LaValle, 75, of Port Jefferson, seeks a 20th term. He faces Democratic nominee Michael L. Conroy, 57, of Manorville, who is not campaigning.

LaValle recalls that Democratic control of the Senate in 2009-10 meant funding cuts for our public schools and five SUNY colleges. In his view, the GOP-Democratic struggle pits the suburbs vs. the cities, "homeowners over renters." And he says GOP oversight of state aid ensures that "our schools would get their fair share and a little more." LaValle is proud of the gem in his district, Stony Brook University, and often is seen in his red SBU cap. As the higher education committee chairman, he has brought many benefits to the university, most recently $60 million for an Innovation and Discovery Center for start-up businesses.

This page disagrees with his opposition to Common Core, but his other priorities are sound: to pass a Long Island water-quality bill, monitor the work of PSEG, create a network linking Stony Brook University Hospital specialists with smaller East End hospitals, and encourage school district consolidations to control taxes.

Newsday endorses LaValle.