Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Republican candidate for the 8th Assembly District....

Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Republican candidate for the 8th Assembly District. (May 24, 2012) Credit: David Pokress

Michael Fitzpatrick, 55, of St. James, is one of the most conservative members of the Assembly, which inevitably leaves him standing alone in that house. His principled stances and his willingness to challenge orthodoxy, however, have helped bring about a property tax cap and pension reform.

He faces a challenge from Democrat Jesse Safer, 58, of Commack, a senior trial attorney for Geico. Safer opposes public funding of charter schools and using student test scores to evaluate teachers. He would like to revive an idea to invite private investors to build a tunnel across the Long Island Sound.

Fitzpatrick is nearing his 10th year in the Assembly, and has flirted with other roles in politics -- Suffolk executive and Congress -- but he's found raising money daunting. Still, his skills and popularity might be best put to use in a more demanding office, such as town supervisor.

While he's still in Albany, however, Fitzpatrick should push harder to transform the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center into a useful site, a potentially divisive fight but one that would represent a promise fulfilled.

Newsday endorses Fitzpatrick.