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Suffolk Closeup: Political spreadsheet for November

The 2022 primary season in Suffolk County was unusual from the outset.

At the beginning of the year, the Democratic majorities in the State Assembly and State Senate overreached and advanced a redistricting map gerrymandered to favor Democratic Party candidates in the state — including in Suffolk.

The State’s Republican Party challenged the map, and an upstate judge and then the State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, rejected it. By a 4-3 majority, the Court of Appeals ruled the map was “drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”

A “special court master” redrew the map making major changes for Suffolk and elsewhere in the state. Redistricting is done through the nation every 10 years to reflect population changes determined in the decennial U.S. Census.

Out of this electoral disarray came instead of the normal one primary date in New York State, two this year.

One primary was held in June and included contests for governor, lieutenant governor and seats in the State Assembly, and another last week for contests for positions in the U.S. House of Representatives and State Senate.

A big piece of news for Suffolk out of the June primary was the loss by Tom Suozzi in his bid to run against incumbent Gov. Kath Hochul and be the Democratic candidate this year for governor. He’s represented the 3rd Congressional District, which had included Huntington and much of Smithtown. Suozzi’s decision was not to stand for re-election to his House seat, to which he likely would have been re-elected. Hochul won the Democratic candidacy easily.

Suozzi, of Glen Cove, a former Nassau County executive, said he was running against Hochul to provide a “centrist” alternative. But Hochul, New York’s lieutenant governor who became governor when Andrew Cuomo resigned last year, is herself considered a “centrist.”

In the primary last Tuesday, Nick LaLota won in a three-way race to be the Republican candidate for the House of Representatives from Suffolk’s 1st C.D. LaLota, who has been a commissioner at the Suffolk County Board of Elections, will face Democrat Bridget Fleming of Noyac, a Suffolk County legislator whose district includes Shelter Island, and previously was a member of the Southampton Town Board.

LaLota resides in Amityville, in the southwest corner of Suffolk, well outside the lst C.D., but says he plans to move into the 1st C.D. He is chief of staff of the Suffolk County Legislature and formerly a member of the Amityville Village Board of Trustees.

The 1st C.D includes the five East End towns, Smithtown and, as a result of the revised redistricting map, Huntington Town and the northern half of Brookhaven Town. Previously it took in all of Brookhaven and didn’t include Huntington.

The incumbent in the 1st C.D., Lee Zeldin, of Shirley, decided like Suozzi not to stand for re-election to his House seat which he has held for eight years. He also chose to run instead for New York governor. And in other big news for Suffolk and the state, Zeldin, a lawyer, won the GOP candidacy for governor in the June primary in a four-way contest.

Will Zeldin meet the same fate as Suozzi as he, too, seeks to rise in government? What will be the election impact of Zeldin’s devotion to former President Trump and also his stance on abortion?

Last week, in a special election to an open Congressional seat upstate, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, who made keeping abortion legal a major issue, won. This followed the Supreme Court majority’s reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision, an action Zeldin supported, calling it “a victory for life, for family, for the Constitution.”

The win of “underdog” Ryan, as the New York Post referred to him, “has been called a national bellwether ahead of the November midterms,” it said. Hochul is pro-choice on abortion.

Earlier polls in August reflected a steep uphill run for governor by Zeldin. A poll by Emerson College had Zeldin trailing Hochul 51% to 35%. A Sienna College poll had Hochul topping Zeldin 53% to 39%. And a SurveyUSA poll found 55% for Hochul, 31% for Zeldin.

Suffolk now will only include two C.D.s, the 1st and 2nd, and no longer the 3rd. As for the 2nd, the new map included the southern half of Brookhaven Town in it, along with Babylon and Islip. Incumbent one-term 2nd C.D.

Representative Andrew Garbarino, a Bayport resident, last week won in a three-way contest to be the Republican candidate again. He will face Democrat Jackie Gordon, an educator and former member of the Babylon Town Board from Copiague.

Election Day this year will be November 8.