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John De Vito wins state Senate race in Suffolk

By: 
David Schwartz
Publication: 
Newsday
Sep
14
2016

A 25-year-old law student from Shirley won a three-way Democratic primary in the 3rd State Senate District in Suffolk Tuesday, while Long Beach City Councilman Anthony Eramo defeated former Nassau Legis. Jeffrey Toback in a Democratic primary in the 20th Assembly District in Nassau.

With all precincts counted in the Senate race, John De Vito, who was backed by the Brookhaven Democratic executive committee, had 40 percent of the vote, compared with 31 percent for civic activist Joseph Fritz and 28 percent for former Suffolk Legis. Rick Montano.

With 44 percent of precincts counted, Eramo led Toback, who conceded defeat, by 62 percent to 38 percent.

Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) won a lopsided victory over challenger Giovanni Mata, who was supported by a charter school-funded super PAC.

Freshman Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wyandanch) won her primary in the 11th Assembly District in Suffolk, over Jordan K. Wilson Jr., a North Babylon mental health counselor, by a margin of 78 percent to 21 percent.

In the 18th Assembly District in Nassau, veteran incumbent Earlene Hooper, the deputy Assembly speaker, beat Carmen Piñeyro, a Freeport village trustee who was backed by progressive groups, in a Democratic primary.

De Vito said his victory shows the power of his message and volunteers.

“We showed everyone, including Republicans, what a young, driven person can do with grass roots support,” said DeVito, who will face Republican Sen. Tom Croci in November.

A half-hour after polls closed at 9 p.m., Ramos declared victory at his Brentwood campaign headquarters. “This was a victory for the entire community. Our opponent spent $321,000 in the last two months and our community stood together,” Ramos said.

Mata, 37, in his third attempt to defeat Ramos, was helped by a pro-charter school group New Yorkers for Independent Action, which flooded the district with attacks on Ramos. The super PAC disclosed it spent $321,262 on Mata’s behalf before the primary. He declined to comment Tuesday night.

The Fund for Great Public Schools, backed by the state teachers union, did anti-Mata mailings.

Ramos, who had blocked an effort to open charter schools in Islip, has served seven terms in the Assembly.

“I congratulate Anthony, his family and his team on their impressive win,” Toback said. “I’m sure he will prevail in November.”

Eramo will face Republican Melissa Miller and Green Party candidate Joseph Naham in the general election in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans.

Toback and Eramo represented different sides of a fractured Democratic Party in Long Beach.

Toback, 56 a Long Beach attorney, served five terms in the Nassau County Legislature and was a member of the Independent Democrats, which splintered from Nassau County’s party.

Eramo, a 42-year-old two-term councilman, had the backing of Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs and former Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg, who previously represented the 20th district and defended his seat in a previous contest with Toback. Eramo is a field service technician and chief steward of CWA Local 1106. Kaminsky also supported Eramo.

The seat was vacated in April when Democrat Todd Kaminsky was elected to the State Senate.

The 3rd State Senate District race pitted a political newcomer against two longtime party veterans.

Fritz, 71, cited his longtime record of fighting for tax relief for those living near zombie properties and tainted parklands. Fritz also said he has actively opposed the proposed 9,100-unit Heartland project in Brentwood, saying it would prompt drastic hikes in school taxes.

Montano, 66, said while he was still waiting for final results, he would congratulate De Vito and that Fritz also ran a tough campaign.

In the 11th Assembly District, Jean-Pierre, 32, won a second term against Wilson, 53, a longtime Democratic activist.

“My constituents believe I understand the issues that are important to our daily lives in Babylon and doing all the great things we’re doing to ensure young people stay on Long Island,” Jean-Pierre said while holding her 10-month-old daughter, Gianna, at Babylon Democratic headquarters.

Hooper, 77, a former state social worker, was leading Piñeyro by 65 percent to 35 percent with 71 percent of precincts counted.

Hooper had faced resistance from Democratic leaders in the district as she pushed legislation to transfer the old Freeport Armory to a nonprofit group that would offer programs for at-risk youth. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed Hooper’s bills in 2013 and 2014, and she has continued to introduce the legislation in the past two years without success.

Piñeyro, who has served two terms as a village trustee and works as chief compliance officer of United Northern Mortgage Bankers in Levittown, said Freeport needed the former National Guard facility to store public works equipment.

Nassau also had an eight-way Reform Party primary for Family Court judge for four spots, and a four-way 2nd District Court judge Reform Party primary for two spots.

The Reform line was created by former Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino in 2015. There are 57 Reform Party members in Nassau County, according to the county board of elections.

In Southampton, Andrea H. Schiavoni won the Conservative line for Town Justice over Ernest R. Wruck, 80 votes to 54, with all precincts reporting. Schiavoni also led on the Working Families line over Wruck 9 votes to 4.

Suffolk Conservative Party voters, meanwhile, selected 982 committee members in 491 election districts. Those committee members will eventually vote on the party’s next chairman.

Brookhaven Conservative Party co-chairman Kenneth Auerbach is trying to unseat Suffolk County Conservative Chairman Frank Tinari, who succeeded Edward Walsh after Walsh was convicted of golfing, gambling, and doing political work while getting paid for his county job.