Democrats look to hold their ground on the North Shore

Luke Torrance
Anna Kaplan and Elaine Phillips during a debate in October. Democratic control over the New York government hangs in the balance of this state Senate race. (Photo by Janelle Clausen).

Democrats across the country are hoping for a “blue wave” on Election Day, where frustration with President Donald Trump will lead voters to cast their ballots for Democratic candidates.

On the North Shore, though, many key positions are already in Democratic hands. The major exception is the 7th state Senate District, which covers the Town of North Hempstead, Floral Park and Hicksville, and is currently occupied by Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill), the former mayor of Flower Hill. Challenging her is Democrat Anna Kaplan, a councilwoman for the Town of North Hempstead.

Republicans control the New York Senate with the slightest of majorities: they have just one more senator than the Democrats. A victory in the 7th District would swing the Senate to the Democrats, giving them control of the Senate, the Assembly and the governorship. The Democrats last had control of all three in 2014.

Phillips has promoted herself as the steady hand who has reduced costs for Long Island families and brought state funding to local schools. She also said she would do all she could to keep residents safe, including support for gun control measures that would ban bump stocks and prevent guns from being carried on school properties.

Kaplan touts her work with North Hempstead and said that Phillips has not done enough for residents. She said she would push more for gun control, the Reproductive Health Act and the Child Victims Act, the latter of which Phillips does not support (her preferred version of the act would not extend the civil statute of limitations).

At the national level, the area’s two representatives in Congress — Reps. Kathleen Rice of Garden City and Tom Suozzi of Glen Cove — are both Democrats. Neither has been shy about rebuking Trump’s actions, although only Rice joined a lawsuit against the president accusing him of violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which restricts members of the government from receiving gifts, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states.

But both said they would be more than just opponents to Trump. Suozzi has spoken often during the campaign about his willingness to reach across the aisle with the Problem Solvers Caucus, and while both support reproductive rights and environmental protection, they each stressed that the economy should be their focus. Both opposed the Republican tax cut that capped deductions for state and local taxes.

Challenging Suozzi in the 3rd Congressional District, which includes the North Shore of Long Island from northeastern Queens to northwestern Suffolk County, is Republican Dan DeBono. DeBono, a former Navy SEAL, said Suozzi is too beholden to big corporations. He has proposed enforcing anti-trust laws to break up large corporations, which he said would increase competition and provide more, better-paying jobs. He did not give an answer on whether he supported the GOP tax cut as is, but said it was flawed. On the national level, he said he would reduce immigration and that the Mueller investigation had gone on long enough.

Challenging Rice in the 4th Congressional District, which takes up much of southern and central Nassau, including Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Mineola and Westbury, is Republican Ameer Benno. A civil rights attorney, Benno said he would do more to bring infrastructure improvements to the South Shore. He said Trump has been more good than bad for the country, citing the state of the economy, and called Rice’s participation in the lawsuit against the president a “political stunt.”

Voters will also be selecting choices for the state Assembly. Anthony D’Urso (D-Port Washington) is seeking re-election in the 16th District, which covers Port Washington, Great Neck, Manhasset, and parts of Roslyn, Garden City and New Hyde Park. He is opposed by Republican Byron Divins, a lawyer and former Navy sailor from Roslyn.

Another Democratic assemblyman seeking re-election is Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), whose district wraps around the northeast border of Nassau County and includes parts of Roslyn and Westbury. He is being challenged by Republican Andrew Monteleone.

One Republican assemblyman looking to hold his seat is Edward Ra of Franklin Square, who is looking to once again represent the 19th District, which includes much of Mineola, New Hyde Park, Williston Park and Garden City, and which stretches up into Old Westbury and Glen Head. The Democratic challenger is William Carr, a trustee in Williston Park.

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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