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Long Island Is Republican Country

Wed, 01/04/2023 - 17:51


Long Island is Republican country. One might not think that from the perspective of an East Hampton voter, where Democrats have had a lock on Town Hall for some time. But in the race for New York governor, Lee Zeldin, an election-denying former member of the House of Representatives from Shirley, won in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Of the 12 State Assembly districts in Suffolk, just three are held by Democrats. And, if Long Island were the entire State of New York, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would be out of Congress altogether.

Democrats’ weaknesses on Long Island do not stop there. Among the other losers in November were Attorney General Letitia James and Robert Zimmerman, who got clobbered by the biggest liar to win a seat in the House, possibly ever, George Santos. Notably, Mr. Santos follows in office Tom Suozzi, who had represented the district since 2017.

In an Op-Ed published in The New York Times on Tuesday, Mr. Suozzi lamented his fate: “It saddens me that after 30 years of public service rooted in hard work and service to the people of this area, I’m being succeeded by a con man.” But another way to look at Mr. Santos’s climb up a fictitious ladder is that it was part of a formidable Republican wave. For one, Long Island’s other baby-faced fabulist, Mr. Zeldin, came within about six percentage points of the governorship — the closest race for the post in decades.

Sure Mr. Zeldin is a Long Islander, but he is also a committed seditionist and was among those seeking to overturn the 2020 election. He spoke on the House floor and voted against certifying the Electoral College results just hours after a mob incited by President Trump stormed the Capitol.

Later, he was the only member of Long Island’s congressional delegation to vote against forming the January 6 Committee. In hindsight, he may have good reason to — a text message sent by Mr. Zeldin to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff in 2020, offering his ideas on how to discredit the election’s outcome. This was apparently okay with a majority of Long Island voters last year.

The message the Republican Party offers Long Island voters centers on a distrust of government, as well as the coded racism in its fixation on crime. New York State’s experiments with bail reform unfortunately provided plenty of fodder for the G.O.P. fear mill. Mr. Zeldin’s campaign blanketed cable television and social media with images of violent crime and the sounds of screaming. Democrats had no good answer for the opposition’s exaggerations. In the coming election cycles it is important for the future of democracy that they do much better.

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