Martins averts major upset, edges Ross

Dan Glaun And Richard Tedesco

Incumbent Republican state Sen. Jack Martins eked out a razor-thin margin of victory over Democratic challenger Daniel Ross in a race for the 7th State Senate District seat that was not expected to be a competitive contest.

Martins won with 48,305 votes, representing 52 percent of the vote, against 44,707 votes, or 48 percent, for Ross.

Martins was the only local incumbent to face a strong challenge.

Congresspersons Steve Israel and Carolyn McCarthy easily defeated their opponents as did Democratic state Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel and Republica state Assemblyman Edward Ra. All four incumbents won by double-digit margins.

Martins drew bipartisan support in his race against Ross, whose only prior attempt to win elective office was an unsuccessful race for fire commissioner in the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire District last year. 

Martins won with 48,305 votes, representing 52 percent of the vote, against 44,707 votes, or 48 percent, for Ross.

“I want to thank all of those who supported my re-election. I look forward to continuing to work hard for the people of the Seventh Senate District,” Martins said in a statement issued by his campaign.

Efforts to reach Martins for comment on the unexpectedly close outcome were unavailing.

Ross said he was not surprised by the close margin of victory in the race.

“I was surprised that I lost. I expected it to be close,” Ross said. “This was a winnable race.”

Ross said he thought the hurricane was a factor in the Democratic effort to get out the vote in the district 

“We had a lot of displaced residents, especially in the northern part of the district in Manhasset, Great Neck and Roslyn. It’s very disconcerting as far as the response, what votes we were unable to collect,” Ross said

Television advertising and a direct mail piece were planned for the final week of the campaign, Ross said, but he decided against both during the protracted power outages. Finance records show that Ross loaned himself $85,000, but he only spent $10,000 at the time of the last campaing filing.

As a captain in the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department, Ross said the time he spent on campaign appearances with the advent of the storm was severely curtailed, further hampering his effort. 

One Democratic source said the specter of former state Sen. Craig Johnson, who lost to Martins in an even closer result two years ago, loomed large in the Martins-Ross race.

“This race was all about Craig Johnson. Nobody liked Craig Johnson. The Democratic  party had no appetite for this race,” the source said. “We all had nightmares about Craig Johnson. We’re all emotionally scarred.”

The source said Johnson turned voters off and that legacy left prominent Democrats, including Nassau County legislators Wayne Wink and Judi Bosworth uninterested in taking on Martins. Martins was perceived to be well-liked in the district, which contains a majority of voters registered as Democrats. Martins had allied himself with Democratic Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel in co-sponsoring legislation. Martins also had worked to restore more than half of $8.5 million in unfunded state grants secured by Johnson, but either rescinded or left in limbo by the Democratic state Senate majority after Johnson lost the election.

The 7th State Senate District comprises Great Neck, New Hyde Park, the Willistons, Mineola, Elmont and parts of Hicksville and New Cassell.

In the newly reconfigured 19th state Assembly District, Republican incumbent Edward Ra easily won re-election over Democratic challenger Gary Port. Ra drew 24,759 votes, representing 62 percent of votes cast, against 15,114, or 38 percent, for Port, a Floral Park attorney who had unsuccessfully run against Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray.

Although he was the incumbent in the race, the redrawn district presented Ra with a territory only contained approximately 20 percent of the district based in Franklin Square and Elmont where he first won election to the state Senate two years ago. The 19th district now includes a wide geographic spread of New Hyde Park, Mineola, the Willistons, Carle Place, Old Westbury, Glen Head.

“We certainly have worked hard to get my name out there and get my message across,” Ra said. “I think in speaking to voters, they’re happy the state has taken a fiscally responsible direction in the last two years and that I was best person to carry things forward in the future.”

Schimel (D-Great Neck), handily defeated challenger and political newcomer Richard Stiek (R-Port Washington).

Schimel, running on the Democratic, Working Families and Independent lines, took 60 percent of the vote, with Stiek claiming 40 percent between the Republican and Conservative lines.

Schimel, whose 16th Assembly District includes Great Neck, Manhasset, Port Washington, Herricks, Mineola and East Williston, touted her support of gun safety regulation, opposition to hydraulic fracturing and bipartisan work with Martins to reduce state mandates on her district during the campaign. Stiek, a lawyer, ran on a message of fiscal restraint and mandate relief.

“Obviously I’m disappointed and I would have thought that more well-defined policies and goals would have trumped the anecdotal philosophies of Michelle, but obviously the people have spoken that they want her to return to Albany,” said Stiek. “At this point we should focus more on fixing what’s wrong with things like LIPA and the MTA and start protecting some folks who are going to sustain some serous stresses with the Nor’easter coming down.”

Schimel attended the Great Neck Democrats Club election watching party Tuesday night, along with local Democratic figures including retiring Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights), Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck), state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D-Great Neck) and North Hempstead Town Council Member Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck).

Schimel thanked supporters and fellow Democrats while the results were coming in and choked up while honoring former Assemblywoman and North Hempstead Town supervisor May Newburger, who died in August at age 92.

Schimel also asked who in attendance was still without electricity, and was met with the raised hands of about 90 percent of her audience.

Schimel said that the last week of the campaign was extremely difficult due to the “profoundly sad” effects of Hurricane Sandy.

In two Congressional races, Nassau County helped send incumbent Democrats Steve Israel (Dix Hills) and Carolyn McCarthy (Mineola) back to Washington.

Israel prevailed over challenger Stephen Labate (R-Deer Park) 58 to 42 in the newly reconfigured 3rd District, which incorporates all or part of Oyster Bay, Great Neck, Manhasset, Port Washington, Roslyn, Williston Park, Floral Park and New Hyde Park.

“I’m honored to have been elected in this new district.  It’s been a very tough week in our community and I know the election was the last thing on most people’s minds.  But I think it really shows our strong our community is,” said Israel in a statement. “People didn’t have power, they didn’t know where to vote, they didn’t have gas to get to the polls, but they still got out and exercised their civic duty.  I’m just so proud of the way our community has weathered this storm and I am humbled to represent them in Congress.  Now Democrats and Republicans must join together to rebuild our community, restore our power lines and reignite the  middle class.”

Israel did double duty during the campaign, all heading the Democratic party’s house races nationally as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Commiteee. Democrats picked up two seats nationally, well less than need to regain the House majority.

McCarthy beat Nassau County Legislator Fran Becker (R-Merrick) for the second straight election and insurgent candidate Frank Sacturro (C-New Hyde Park) in the 4th District, which now includes New Hyde Park, Floral Park, the Willistons, Mineola, Garden City, Rockville Centre, Franklin Square, Westbury, East Meadow, Freeport, Oceanside, Long Beach, Wantagh, Bellmore and Merrick.

Scaturro, an attorney, challenged Becker in a bitter primary battle and launched third party bid after failing to secure the nomination. He took 6 percent of the vote, Becker 32 percent and McCarthy 62 percent.

“This election has been unlike any I’ve ever experienced – I spent the entire day not at poll sites or campaigning but on the phone with LIPA and my colleagues in government, and working with my staff to help the many constituents who have called us looking for help after Hurricane Sandy,” said McCarthy in a statement. “We prevailed tonight because the voters of Long Island chose their candidates based on our records, and they came out to vote despite the great challenges posed by the most devastating storm our area has seen in living memory.”

Scaturro said the damage of Hurricane Sandy made campaigning difficult, both logistically and in the face of the district’s suffering.

“The overriding feeling is the same that all the residents are facing in the county – the storm has been devastating for so many people,” said Scaturro. “We had a good number of volunteers on the campaign on the South Shore… several of them were displaced.”

His campaign had produced television ad, Scaturro said, but Sandy forced the cancellation of its broadcast and the dissemination of a mailer in the last week of the race. 

The race also left Scaturro in financial straits – he has loaned his campaign $235,000 since his run in the 2010 primaries, and he does not expect to get that money back.

“I liquidated the lions share of my savings to do this,” Scaturro said, adding that while he does wish to pursue some type of public service he had to focus in the short-term on stabilizing his personal finances.

In a  special election to fill the county Legislature seat left vacant by the death of Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), Republican nominee Michael Venditto, running on the GOP, Conservative and Independent lines, defeat Joanne Maglione – a lifelong Republican running as a Democrat. Venditto won 65 to 35 percent. The election restored the Republican’s 10-9 majority in the Legislature.

Teresa Corrigan (D), Helene Gugerty (D) and Robert Spergel (D) took the three available County Court judge positions, beating out Republicans David Sullivan, Martin Massell and Fran Ricigliano in initial results.

In the race for District Court Judge for the 3rd District, two-term Democratic incumbent Scott Fairgrieve outpolled Republican challenger Harvey Strickon. Fairgrieve drew more than 58.6 percent of the ballots, with 37,159 votes, to Strickon’s 26,262 votes, or 41.4 percent of the vote.   

Neither Fairgrieve or Strickon were available to comment on the result.

In the 10th Judicial District Supreme Court Race, which incorporates both Nassau and Suffolk Counties, 12 candidates competed for six positions. The race was extremely tight, with the sixth and seventh place candidates separated by .03 percent in Nassau County, and each county had a different top six candidates.

Inquiries to the New York State Board of Elections regarding the official results were not returned by press time.

For those reasons, Blank Slate Media is not announcing a final list of winners. John Leo (D), Leonard Austin (D), Richard Ambro (D) and Sondra Pardes (D) all placed in the top six for both counties. Peter Skelos (R ) and James Catterson (R) made the list in Suffolk County, while Hope Zimmerman (D) and Leonard Steinman placed in the top six in Nassau County.

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Dan Glaun And Richard Tedesco

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