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Long Island Voters Hit Polls for Primary Day

In the run up to the New York State primaries, much of the publicity has gone to the GOP gubernatorial match up, the five candidates vying for the Democratic line for attorney general and five Republicans challenging the state’s two senators. But in Nassau and Suffolk counties, there are a handful of local contests that voters will decide Tuesday as well.

A voter casts her ballot at Islip Middle School on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010.

There are three Republicans in each of the primaries to decide who faces Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) and Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) on Election Day. Both Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) are fending off challenges to their party lines, as are Assembly members Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) and Ginny Fields (D-Oakdale). And a four-way primary battle has erupted in the race to replace outgoing Assemb. Tom Alfano (R-Franklin Square).


On the East End, the trio trying to unseat Bishop—whose district has been pegged as one of the most vulnerable in the state—may have made the most noise of all. The Conservative designee, businessman Randy Altschuler, has been in a no-holds-barred dust-up between Chris Cox, a grandson of Richard Nixon and son of the New York State GOP chairman, and George Demos, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission prosecutor. All three have taken nearly as much time criticizing one another as they have taking aim at Bishop, a former career college administrator running for his fifth term.

Altschuler, a St. James resident who has emerged as the cash leader in the race with more than $1.8 million on hand, has taken out ads calling Cox a “carpetbagger” because he moved from Manhattan to Westhampton in January. Cox, whose war chest isn’t far behind and has garnered the support of some Tea Party groups, shot back by highlighting Altschuler’s prior outsourcing of jobs.

The third first-time candidate in the race, Demos, of Ronkonkoma, has pegged both of his opponents as out-of-touch elitists. For his outsider status, Demos won the praise of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh.

In the three-way race to challenge McCarthy, a former nurse who won in 1997 on an anti-gun platform after her husband was murdered by Colin Ferguson in the LIRR massacre, the candidates have been far more civil.

The party designee is eight-term Nassau County Legis. Francis X. Becker, Jr. (R-Lynbrook), who also has the Conservative, Independence and Tax Revolt lines. Becker touts his experience as an accountant as credentials to cut taxes and government spending.

Frank Scaturro, a former congressional aide from Hempstead, and Tea Party organizer Daniel Maloney of Baldwin, are both running against Becker. Scaturro, a constitutional law professor at Hofstra University Law School, draws on his prior experience in Washington while Maloney plays up the fact he is neither a politician nor a lawyer. Scaturro is also challenging Becker on the Conservative line.

Even less dramatic is the race against King, who is being challenged by perennial Republican primary candidate Robert Previdi. The schoolteacher from Manhasset has run every year since 1996, but is hoping this year he can capitalize on anti-incumbent fervor. King, the pugnacious ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, is running for his tenth term. He also has the Conservative, Independence and Tax Revolt lines.

On the North Shore, Ackerman will face Patricia Maher in the Democratic primary. The 14-term liberal congressman, who is well known for his pro-Israel stance and for wearing a fresh white carnation boutonnière each day, is also running on the Working Families and Independence party lines. Maher, a former congressional aide from East Meadow, has previously campaigned unsuccessfully for Congress, New York State Senate and the Nassau County Legislature on various party lines.

Two Republicans are fighting for the chance to take on Ackerman in the general election. Elizabeth Berney, an attorney from Great Neck who is already on the Tax Revolt line, is making her second run. James Milano, of Oyster Bay, is a physician at the Saint Francis Heart Center in Roslyn whose chief issue is repealing health care reform.

In state-level races, there is no shortage of spicy contests. The most piquant may be the Democratic primary between former Nassau County Legis. Jeffrey Toback and Weisenberg, a longtime advocate for those who suffer from developmental disabilities who is also running on the Working Families line.

Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) unseated Toback in November, prompting the Oceanside resident to take aim at Weisenberg and his much-publicized, so-called double-dipping, or collecting a pension as of last year in addition to his salary as a lawmaker. Weisesnberg, a 76-year-old with 21 years in office, has defended the move as necessary and has been quoted as saying that he has “unfinished business” in Albany.

In Alfano’s neighboring district to the north, Democratic designee Mimi Pierre Johnson is going head-to-head with Patrick Nicolosi. The two Elmont civic association leaders each accused one another of committing petition fraud and survived challenges to remain on the ballot. Johnson is also running on the Working Families line.

Whoever wins will face Republican Edward Ra, an attorney from Franklin Square. Patricia Friedman, a Garden City South civic activist, is running against him for the Conservative line.

Friedman previously ran for Nassau County legislature as a Green Party candidate. Ra is the son of Town of Hempstead Attorney Joseph Ra.

To the east, Fields is defending her Democratic designation against political newcomer Kenneth Mangan, a Sayville businessman hoping to seize on the anti-incumbent climate. Fields, of Oakdale, had been fundraising hard to ensure she survives the challenge from the teachers’ union-backed Mangan.

Some voters in central Nassau may be surprised to see that David Mejias is still on the ballot in the Democratic primary against Francesca Carlow for the right to challenge State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City). Mejias, the original party designee, dropped out of the race last week to focus on defending himself against criminal charges of stalking his ex-girlfriend. The Dems have since thrown their weight behind Carlow.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Check with Nassau or Suffolk county board of elections for your local polling place.

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