No one, it seems, can attract and repel so many voters as President Donald J. Trump. It is a truism of politics that presidential elections always increase the turnout at the polls. This has consequences for what are called down ballot races.
Both Nassau County Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs and his GOP counterpart, Joseph Cairo, agree that Nov. 3, Election Day, will be one for the record books.
“I think it’s going to be up,” Jacobs, who also is the state chair, said of turnout. “We had something like 7.7 million people vote last [presidential election]. I’d be very surprised if we were under 8 million this time. I think it’s going to be much more than that. There’s a lot of enthusiasm. If you take a look at absentee ballots [requests], they’re off the charts all over the state.”
“There are people who might not put Trump signs out on their front lawn, but they’re going to come out and support him,” Cairo said. “I think more now than four years ago. The issues of bail reform, defunding the police—people are motivated. People are concerned for their safety and their families. So I think the Republican base will be well-motivated to come out and vote this year.”
He added, “Not only the Republican base. I think that people in general, Nassau County residents, are going to be coming out. General elections always bring out a large turnout, but this year more than ever.”
Besides four congressional seats on Long Island, a slew of state Senate and Assembly races are also on the ballot.
Asked what the GOP’s campaign theme will be this year, Cairo replied, “Our races are going to focus on what people are concerned about. First and foremost is public safety. People are scared. Bail reform. Defunding the police. Sanctuary cities. Parole boards. The fact that a guy gets arrested at nine in the morning and is back out on the street at three o’clock in the afternoon. It’s on people’s minds. They’re talking about it. And that’s going to be a major issue this year.”
Republicans and both the Nassau and Suffolk Police Benevolent Associations (PBA) have targeted the Long Island Democratic state senators for backing cashless bail and criminal justice reforms they claim went too far in favor of defendants against law enforcement and prosecutors.
Jacobs believes his elected officials have been unfairly associated with the more liberal New York City contingent, who pushed reforms.
“The GOP and the police unions are trying to mischaracterize what was accomplished,” Jacobs charged. “In the first round [during the 2019 state legislative session] many of us, including the Long Island state senators, felt that bail reform had gone too far. They fought to change the law so that it fell in line with most of the other bail reform bills that had passed across the country, including federally.
“I think the most important thing they did is they fought hard to make sure there was judicial discretion so that a judge could decide if a particular individual needed to put up bail,” he continued, citing the modification passed in this year’s session.
When Senate Democrats gained a majority in 2018, he noted, they passed some good bills and enacted needed criminal justice reforms.
There are four districts in Nassau and Suffolk, evenly split between the major parties. Tom Suozzi (3rd) and Kathleen Rice (4th) are the Democrats.
Of his two candidates, Jacobs said, “You don’t want to take anything for granted, but they’re comfortably in the lead at the moment, as they should be. We’ve been doing some polling, and if the people who say they’re voting actually vote, they’ll do well.”
Cairo is not ready to concede the seats.
“I don’t think anything is safe this year,” the chair said. “We have two fine candidates in George Santos (3rd) and Doug Tuman (4th). Doug is an attorney and an engineer. He’s highly qualified and working hard. Of course, he had a great primary victory in our own party. Up north, while Tom Suozzi has done well in the past, this is a very unusual year. You can’t make any predictions. Things are unpredictable, and a lot can happen between now and Election Day. George Santos, I think, can be a surprise.”
Here are the congressional races in the Anton Media Group coverage area, with the following labels: Democratic (D), Republican (R), Conservative (C), Working Families (WF) Libertarian (L) and Independence (I).
2nd: With the retirement of Peter King (R–Seaford), who first won election in 1992 (it was then the 3rd district) , the race is open. King endorsed Andrew Garbarino (R/L/C/Serve America Movement Party) as his successor. Garbarino is currently a member of the Assembly, representing the 7th District. He will face Jackie Gordon (D/WF/I) and Harry Burger (G).
“The district is one-third Nassau, two-thirds Suffolk,” Jacobs commented. “The Democrats tend to do well in the Suffolk portion. We have a very tough time in the Nassau portion. Assuming we can make a dent in the Republican strength here in Nassau, then our candidate has a decent chance. But it’s an uphill fight because it’s a tough district.”
“Andrew Garbarino is going to win,” Cairo asserted. “He’s a good candidate. He’s got experience in the [state] Assembly. He’s working very hard. And he’s going to continue in the mold of Peter King, with that great representation that Peter has afforded all the residents in his district.”
3rd: Incumbent Tom Suozzi of Glen Cove (D/WF/I) faces George Devolder-Santos (R/C) and Howard Rabin (L).
4th: Rice (D–Garden City), the former Nassau County District Attorney, will defend her seat against Douglas Tuman (R/C) and Joseph R. Naham (G).
In our next edition: A look at the state Senate and Assembly races.
Visit the Nassau County Board of Elections (BOE) website at www.nassaucountyny.gov/566/Board-of-Elections for complete information on voting.
Oct. 9: Last day to postmark voter registration form. Must be received by the BOE no later than Oct. 14. This is also the Last day to submit voter registration form in person at BOE.
Oct. 27: Last day to postmark absentee ballot application.
Nov. 2: Last day to apply for absentee ballot in person at BOE.
Nov. 3: Election Day. Last day to postmark absentee ballot. Must be received by the BOE no later than Nov. 10. Absentee ballot can also be delivered in person to the BOE by the close of polls on Nov. 3.