Suozzi and Martins near end of race

By Patrick Donachie

The race to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) in Congress will come to a close with next week’s general election, with former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and state Sen. Jack Martins (D-Mineola) locked in a campaign that could help determine if the Democrats can retake control of the House of Representatives.

Suozzi benefitted from the recent endorsement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Israel, who announced his retirement earlier this year. Martins can tout the endorsements of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as well as former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

Geographically, the overwhelming majority of the district is made up of parts of Suffolk and Nassau County in Long Island, with the district cutting into the borough to include parts of Bay Terrace, Whitestone, Glen Oaks and Floral Park. Newsday reported that Queens voters made up close to 14 percent of the district in terms of population.

In addition to his tenure as Nassau County executive, Suozzi was also a former mayor of Glen Cove, and ran for governor in 2006, losing to Eliot Spitzer in a Democratic primary. He faced four other competitors in a Democratic primary earlier this year. Suozzi spoke about his Queens support and the chief issues he heard during the campaign.

“I’ve been lucky to have the support of Borough President Melinda Katz, Council Member Paul Vallone, state Sen. Tony Avella and many other elected officials and local community leaders in Queens,” he said in an email interview. “The No. 1 issue is jobs and the economy, but I’m also focused on addressing the noise pollution created by airplanes and helicopters and the transportation desert in Queens by bringing federal infrastructure investment back to Queens to create more public transportation options.”

Martins served eight years as mayor of Mineola before successfully running for the state Senate to represent the 7th District, which includes northwestern Long Island, including Great Neck. He underwent a number of legal challenges earlier this year from Phillip ‘Flip’ Pidot, a former fraud investigator who asserted he had enough signatures to force a Republican primary. A potential Oct. 6 primary date was set, but the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the primary would create voter confusion and burden local election boards.

Martins said he felt the momentum in the final weeks of the campaign had been at his back, and cited airplane noise and the city’s policy on housing homeless individuals in hotels as important local issues. He said he wanted to work on a middle-class tax cut if elected.

“That includes cutting red tape and getting government out of the way, allowing our businesses to do what they do best,” he said. “People make too many sacrifices everyday, and everyday the government steps in and creates one more sacrifice, and it’s time it stopped.”

The attacks between the candidates accelerated in recent weeks, with Martins’ camp accusing Suozzi of closing Nassau County’s only inpatient addiction treatment facility during his tenure as executive, while The Island Now reported that Suozzi’s campaign was questioning how the Martins campaign paid for top campaign strategists and attorneys, saying it indicated a lack of transparency.

A Newsday/Sienna College poll released on Oct. 8, showed Suozzi in the lead, 50 to 34 percent, with 15 percent undecided. The Martins campaign has indicated that internal polling indicates a tighter race.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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