Outgoing state Sen. Phil Boyle, a Republican in Suffolk County, said crime was the top issue for voters on Long Island, who may live in the suburbs, but are concerned about crime in New York City.
“The voters on Long Island focused on crime: crime, crime, crime,” he said Wednesday. “And it’s not so much that there has been crime on their streets, although there has been — like in front of Lee Zeldin’s house — but a lot of family members, friends and neighbors work in New York City; they go to New York City to have fun, go to dinner. And they were afraid.”
Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said people wanted change. “They were afraid for their safety and their pocketbooks.”
The victories could prove decisive in how large a majority House Republicans stand to gain, proving that New York was, as expected, a critical battleground.
The parties went into Election Day with a House delegation in New York of 19 Democrats and eight Republicans. The results were leaning toward 15 Democrats and 11 Republicans since the state lost one seat due to redistricting.
Long Island victories
On Long Island, Republicans were declared victors by midday Wednesday in all four seats — with George Santos beating Robert Zimmerman to flip the 3rd District seat held by Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who eschewed reelection to run unsuccessfully for governor.
In the 4th District in Nassau County, Republican Anthony D’Esposito named the winner Wednesday over Democrat Laura Gillen. He was ahead 52 percent to 48 percent.
And Republicans won the two seats they had already held in Suffolk County, with the only incumbent on the ballot, Rep. Andrew Garbarino cruising over Democratic challenger Jackie Gordon.
“I’d like to think our victory can prove that there is a way to maintain one’s conservative ideology while also working across the aisle to benefit Long Islanders,” Republican Nick LaLota, who was declared the winner in the 1st District on the eastern tip of Long Island to succeed Zeldin, said in a statement.
Hudson Valley gains
The other House battleground in New York was the Hudson Valley, where Republicans also had a strong showing.
Maloney lost his seat to Republican Mike Lawler after serving in the region for five terms. Maloney didn’t even attend his own campaign party Tuesday night. He lost by about 3,200 votes, down 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent.
And Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, was also declared the winner in an open seat after opening up a more than 6,000 vote lead, 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent, over Democrat Josh Riley in the new 19th District that stretches across the Hudson Valley and into the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes.
“Our understanding from Board of Elections officials is that we are down, but not out,” Riley said in a statement.
There was one big win for Democrats: Rep. Pat Ryan declared victory and his Republican opponent Colin Schmitt conceded in the Hudson Valley’s District 18, one of the nation’s top toss-up races after Ryan won a special election to the House in August. The race had yet to be officially called Wednesday morning, but Ryan was leading by about 2,000 votes, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent.
“After a hard-fought campaign, the people of our district made their choice, and I respect their decision,” Schmitt said in a statement.
In Central New York
In another toss-up race to succeed retiring GOP Republican John Katko, Republican Brandon Williams, a political newcomer from Texas who beat an establishment-backed candidate in the primary, was leading by 3,000 votes — 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent — in the Syracuse area.
While the race had not yet been officially called, Williams declared victory early Wednesday after votes were released in Oneida County, which he won by more than 60 percent.
Democrat Francis Conole has not conceded, and his campaign released a statement calling for all absentees and provisional ballots to be counted.
“This is a fundamental part of our democracy, and we look forward to it being carried out in the coming days,” Conole said.
In Rochester, Democratic Rep. Joe Morelle was declared a winner in a Monroe County race that Democrats feared might be in jeopardy. The party rushed to provide last-minute campaign cash to help the former state Assembly majority leader, who has been in elected office since the 1980s.
Other Republicans in Western New York cruised to victory: Rep. Claudia Tenney was reelected to a safer GOP seat than the one she currently has in central New York, and state GOP Chair Nick Langworthy easily prevailed in the Buffalo area after winning a contentious August primary against Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.