Democrats Win Key Races In Nassau

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Absentee ballots help overcome GOP leads on Election Day

Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs speaks to the media at a press conference on Nov. 18. Standing behind him, from the left, were senators John Brooks, Kevin Thomas, Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan, Michael Gianaris and James Gaughran.
(Photo by Frank Rizzo)

Election Day night was not the same this year.
Traditionally, the vast majority of races have been decided that day as candidates gathered at party campaign headquarters to await results. With the advent of mass absentee ballots in 2020—thanks to the pandemic—the tallies at the end of that evening were only provisional.

Nassau County and New York State Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs joined with the county’s state senators on Nov. 17 at the county headquarters in Garden City to celebrate victories gained by mail-in votes.

Jacobs claimed he knew on election night that “this red mirage would turn out to be a blue ocean. And we had a confidence about this because we saw the blue ballots coming in. We had, on Election Day, more than 150,000 absentee ballots. That was 20 percent of the 720,000 people in Nassau County who voted. And we knew also that 2½ and even 3 to 1 were Democrats over Republicans.”
He added that the early voting was also overwhelmingly Democratic.
“That’s what I said to the team on election night,” Jacobs related. “We were all together and I said, ‘Things may not look too good now, but we’re going to win this.’ And it turned out to be right. And I had confidence that it would.”

State Senator Kevin Thomas
(Photo courtesy of his office)

The press conference was held to announce that first-term Sen. Kevin Thomas of Levittown had clinched his 5th District race against Republican Dennis Dunne Sr., also of Levittown. Dunne, a current councilman in the Town of Hempstead and former Nassau County Legislator, conceded on Nov. 16 as Thomas gained a lead of more than 1,400 votes. At the close of Election Day, Dunne’s lead was 7,694 with about 28,130 absentee ballots uncounted.

Thomas was joined by fellow senators John Brooks (8th–Seaford), Todd Kaminsky (9th–Long Beach) and Anna Kaplan (7th–Great Neck), all of whom won their races.
Thomas confessed, “The wait to open these absentee ballots was agonizing and I found myself pacing around, counting with my fingers and in my head, whether I would win or not.”
The senator thanked a range of people, from his immediate family to the Democratic leadership, including Jacobs, whom he called his “mentor in this journey. A man whose vision and strategy got me through to the finish line. Most of us share a certain hope for the future. We want our kids to have a world class education with well-founded schools. We want to be able to breathe clean air and protect our planet. Have the opportunity to own a home where we want to live. Raise a family in a safe neighborhood and be able to drink clean water, among other priorities.”

James Gaughran (5th–Northport) was also present, and awaiting more counting in his race against Edmund Smyth, a Town of Huntington councilman.
On Nov. 18, according to a press release by Gaughran’s campaign, Smyth called to concede as Gaughran gained his second term. Smyth led by 13,848 votes on Election Day, with about 35,800 uncounted. The 5th encompasses the northern portions of eastern Suffolk and western Nassau counties.
In a statement, Gaughran said, “I am humbled to be reelected by the residents of the 5th Senate District and I thank them for their support. I will keep fighting for my constituents, for Long Island, and for all of New York State and I thank the voters for giving me the opportunity to continue to serve them.”

5th Senate District
Incumbent James Gaughran
(D–Northport) trailed
challenger Edmund Smyth
(R–Lloyd Harbor) after the
Election Day tally.

Gaughran told Anton Media Group at the press conference that he was not pessimistic about his prospects after seeing the results on Election Day.
“Did the GOP attempts to paint the Long Island senate delegation as soft on crime and blame them for bail reform gain some traction?” he was asked.
“I did not see that at all,” Gaughran replied. “We fought back against that pretty hard and I think the results at the end of the day are going to show that people like the job that I’m doing representing them in Albany.”
Not that he was making any victory declaration that day.
“I have too much respect for the voters in my district and to my opponent as well, who is a gentleman. Suffolk County still has about 75 percent of the vote to count. So I’m going to wait,” he affirmed.
“So you don’t feel that the Republican message resonated with voters?” he was asked.
“I don’t think so,” he responded.

Jacobs praised the work of Sen Mike Gianaris (12–Queens), the deputy majority leader and head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.
Gianaris said he told Thomas that his was the race he wanted to win the most, noting, “Kevin was targeted unfairly. He had millions of dollars of lies spread about him on the airwaves.”
Absentee ballots also brought wins to Democratic candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Nassau over President Donald J. Trump. The president had led by about 6,000 votes at the close of Election Day.

Congressman Thomas Suozzi meets with constituents at a town hall in Hicksville back in 2017. A surge of absentee ballots gave the Democrat a third term in the House of Representatives.
(Photo by Frank Rizzo)

Similarly, 3rd District Congressman Thomas Suozzi (D–Glen Cove), overcame the lead of opponent George Santos (R–Queens) to win a third term.
In a press release on Nov. 17, Suozzi stated, “George Santos called me this morning to concede and congratulate me on my victory. I thanked him for his call. It is a great honor to serve as a Member of Congress and I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the people I represent. Our nation faces tremendous challenges and the division is distracting us from accomplishing our goals.”

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