BY DOMENICK RAFTER
Editor in Chief
Former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi came out on top of the competitive Democratic Party primary to succeed U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Long Island/Queens) on Tuesday, leading his opponents by double digits and winning the Queens portion by an even larger margin.
According to preliminary results, Suozzi, who is also the former Mayor of Glen Cove, won 6,532 votes, or about 36 percent. Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern won 4,069 votes, or about 22 percent, strengthened by a big victory in the Suffolk portion of the district. Former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman finished in third, a mere nine votes behind Stern, also at 22 percent, while North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan and attorney Jonathan Clarke finished fourth and fifth, at 15 percent and 5 percent respectively.
Suozzi won 43 percent in the Queens portion of the district, which includes Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, Little Neck, Glen Oaks and Bellerose. He had the support of the Queens Democratic Party, including Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and even former rivals State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and City Comptroller John Liu.
“This victory is only possible because of the tremendous support I received in Queens,” Suozzi said in a conference call Wednesday. “I’m very grateful for the supporters who came out and the elected officials who supported me in Queens. It’s the smallest part of the district, but it’s very important to me. I love Queens.”
He added that he would open a district office in Queens if elected.
Suozzi now faces GOP nominee state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Nassau County) in what is being called one of the most competitive Congressional races in the country. The district, which stretches along Long Island’s north shore from the Whitestone Bridge to Smithtown in Suffolk County, narrowly voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 and is nearly-equally divided between the parties.
Suozzi said he believed he won Queens because he focused on a number of local issues; airplane and helicopter noise, Co-Op taxes and transportation among them.
“I’m not about going to Washington get a job, I’m about going to Washington to do a job,” Suozzi said. “I think that resonated with people.”
By Wednesday afternoon, Suozzi said he had gotten the endorsement of all of his former Democratic opponents.
Elsewhere, incumbents trounced their challengers. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) won his nomination race in his Southeast Queens district, defeating activist Ali Mirza 82 percent to 18 percent. Meeks was to face State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park), but he dropped out of the race to run for reelection in April.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn) crushed her opponent Peter Lindner 90 percent to 10 percent in her district that includes Astoria and Long Island City.
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn/Queens), who has faced regular primaries in recent election cycles, won the Democratic nomination in her district handily, defeating businessman Yungman Lee and activist Jeff Kurzon with 62 percent of the vote. Her opponents received 28 percent and 10 percent respectively.
All of those seats are considered safe for the incumbents in November.