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As Suffolk County Finishes Ballot Count, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin's Margin Of Victory Becomes Realized

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.)
J. Scott Applewhite

Suffolk County Republicans have not only held on to their state and congressional districts, but reclaimed several seats lost to Democratic freshmen in 2018, according to county election results released this week.

In their heyday, the GOP praised the Long Island Nine, the region’s Republican state senators who for held seats for decades. With those seats, Republicans had control over the New York state Senate for a century before Democrats took over in 2018. Ten veteran GOP Senators, since then, decided not to seek reelection, rather than continue to be in the chamber’s minority party, including former Senate Minorty Leader John Flanagan and Senator Ken LaValle, who have since retired.

Now, Democrats have a veto-proof supermajority in the Senate. 

But Jesse Garcia, chair of the Suffolk County Republican party, called the 2020 victories, after a month-long wait for thousands of absentee ballots to be counted, a return to normalcy for Long Island.

“The Suffolk [GOP] delegation has grown by one member," Garcia said. "It will represent 20% of the state Republican Senate delegation in Albany and will represent the values of Long Island."

"There were rumors of a blue wave, and perhaps it occurred in some areas, but state Democrats ran into a red brick wall here in Suffolk County,” he continued.

New York’s 1st Congressional District

Data shows Republican U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin secured re-election to a fourth-term in NY-1 against Democratic challenger Nancy Goroff.

As of Wednesday morning, unofficial results put Zeldin in the lead with 39,661 votes with less than 2,000 absentee ballots to count. He had a 65,000-vote lead he had on Election Day, and declared victory on Election Night. However, the Associated Press has not yet called this race. The Goroff campaign said it is waiting until every ballot is counted.

Zeldin was on Trump’s legal defense team during his impeachment hearings earlier this year, and sits on the White House Task Force on Reopening the Economy during the pandemic.

He is also a veteran of the Iraq War and lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Republicans join the state Senate

Republican Anthony Palumbo defeated Democrat Laura Ahearn in SD-1, left open by eastern Long Island Republican Ken Lavalle’s retirement. Palumbo was ahead by over 5,000 votes with less than 2,000 absentee ballots left to consider.

Republican Mario Mattera won against Democratic challenger Mike Siderakis in SD-2, left open by former Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan. Mattera led Siderakis by over 24,000 votes with less than 5,300 absentee ballots left to count.

And Republican Aleix Weik defeated Democratic freshman Senator Monica Martinez in SD-3. Weik garnered 7,488 more votes than Martinez with 2,000 remaining absentee ballots.

“When the voters get duped in one election cycle, we correct the record. We work hard in doing that. And we give the voters a reason to change their vote and fix a mistake. That mistake was Monica Martinez,” Garcia, the Suffolk GOP party head, said. The Martinez campaign did not respond to requests for comment but conceded on Twitter.

Assembly GOP gains

Republican Jodi Giglio won against Democrat Laura Jens-Smith for Palumbo’s seat, AD-1. Republican Keith Brown beat Democrat Michael Marcantonio for AD-12, left open by Republican Andrew Raia’s retirement.

And Republican Jarrett Gandolfo defeated Democrat Francis Denco for AD-7, left open by Republican Andrew Garbarino secured the NY-2 vacated by Republican Congressman Peter King’s retirement. That race also hasn’t been called yet by the AP.

Notable Democrats who held their ground

Democrats had a few wins of their own — namely on Long Island, Senate freshmen Kevin Thomas and Jim Gaughran — staved off Republican challengers with big money from police unions and conservative advocacy groups from outside New York. And U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi held off a challenge from Republican George Santos in NY-3, according to the AP. Santos has conceded.

What happens next

Nick LaLota, Republican commissioner of the bipartisan Suffolk County Board of Elections, said the leads held by those candidates compared to the number of absentee ballots left to count in those races made it “mathematically certain” that they were victorious.

LaLota said he will certify the election results next week.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.