Any Democrat looking for a bright spot in Tuesday’s election isn’t going to find it on Long Island in New York. The nominally Democratic region saw a GOP sweep of every major office and a repudiation of Democratic Party-supported initiatives, including bail reform.
Suffolk and Nassau County residents voted against incumbent Democratic district attorneys and elected Republican county executives in a GOP blowout that has not been seen in two decades.
The issue in the Nassau County district attorney race was bail reform, pushed by the incumbent DA Todd Kaminsky. Republican Anne Donnelly successfully painted Kaminsky as soft of crime after several criminals let out on bail ended up committing further crimes. She clobbered the Democrat by 20 points.
“Thank you for caring enough about Nassau County to want to keep it safe,” Donnelly said. “And thanks for backing the candidate who backs the blue…I’m excited to get to work and make a difference, as I’ve tried to do for the last 32 years.”
Kaminsky conceded the race and thanked his supporters.
“Last night’s result was not what we wanted, but I am so proud of the campaign we ran and the people who volunteered their time and energy to knock on over 100,000 doors across Nassau County,” Kaminsky said. “Long Islanders want safe communities and government free from corruption. In my role as a Senator, I will continue to serve my constituents and remain committed to those critical priorities and others to move Nassau forward.”
In Suffolk County, Republican Ray Tierney trounced Democratic incumbent District Attorney Tim Sini with 145,933 votes or 57% to 109,060 votes or 43%. Bail reform was also an issue in Suffolk, although Sini criticized the bail reform law as being too lenient.
Too little, too late. The red tide swept him away.
The county executive races in both Nassau and Suffolk proved to be just as surprising.
In another potential upset, Republican challenger Bruce Blakeman led Democratic incumbent Nassau County Executive Laura Curran with 127,414 votes or 52 percent to 117,158 votes or 48 percent. Curran was elected four years ago, running on an anti-corruption platform after ex-county executive Ed Mangano was arrested and convicted on bribery charges.
Curran will need to win the lion’s share of 30,000 to 40,000 uncounted mail-in balls to turn the tide.
Republican Elaine Phillips, a former state senator, also buried Democratic rival Ryan Cronin in the Nassau comptroller’s race, with 61 percent or 145,175 votes to 94,445 votes or 39 percent.
“It was not a particularly good night,” said Nassau County Democratic leader Jay Jacobs.
“This is a red tsunami. It’s a complete wipeout. This is a sharp repudiation of the Democratic Party,” said Lawrence Levy, dean of Hofstra University’s national center for suburban studies.
Indeed, while the party out of power usually does well in the first midterm election after a presidential handover of power, what happened on Tuesday is nearly unprecedented in the strength of the voter’s repudiation of the Democrats and Joe Biden.
There were only five Democratic winners in 18 legislative races in Suffolk County. If these results hold, they will give the GOP a supermajority in the county legislature and virtually unlimited power to shape the agenda. Elections have consequences. And Democrats are learning that the hard way.