Ahearn declares victory, will take on Palumbo in State Senate race

Democratic Senate Candidate Laura Ahearn has declared victory in a five-way primary to win the party’s nomination to run for State Senate this November.

In a statement Wednesday, Ms. Ahearn said a full canvas of the results of the June 23 primary shows it’s “abundantly clear” voters have chosen her.

“It is with great humility and excitement that I declare victory in the Democratic Primary in New York State Senate District 1,” she wrote before going on to thank staff and volunteers. Ms. Ahearn, an attorney and social worker who for more than 20 years has served as the executive director of Parent’s for Megan’s Law, said fighting for children and families and protecting the environment will be cornerstones of her campaign.

Representatives of the Suffolk County Board of Elections did not immediately respond to a request for comment and an update of the results Wednesday.

Preliminary results showed Ms. Ahearn, a 56-year-old Port Jefferson resident, had the lead with 2,360 votes, followed by Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (2,120), Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni (1,812) and fellow candidates Skyler Johnson (945) and Nora Higgins (356).

Ms. Ahearn first announced her candidacy last October before longtime incumbent Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) had announced he would not seek re-election. Mr. LaValle, who was first elected in 1976, is the longest-tenured member of the NYS Senate and, now in his 22nd term, has served more terms than any state senator in the nation.

Ms. Ahearn will instead face Republican Anthony Palumbo of New Suffolk, who is abandoning his Assembly seat to seek higher office.

Democrats have had a tough time in 1st Senate District elections, though in the November 2018 elections Greg Fischer of Riverhead, a perennial losing candidate in various elections over the past decade-plus, came within nearly 17,000 votes of Mr. LaValle, the closest result since the senator’s initial campaign more than four decades earlier.

The district’s demographics are also changing and statistics released by the New York State Board of Elections in February show there are now more enrolled Democrats than Republicans in the 1st Senate District. In 2018 Republicans had about 3,000 more registered voters, down from about 11,000 a decade ago. There are more than 65,000 unaffiliated voters in the district.

It’s been 108 years since a Democrat has won election in the 1st Senate District.

Former Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith has declared victory in the 2nd Assembly District Democratic primary. She will face her former Town Board colleague Jodi Giglio, a Republican, in the race for Mr. Palumbo’s vacant seat.

“This was a strange primary election, but, I have won elections and I have lost, and I am humbled that the people of the North Fork and Brookhaven have made me the ‘Comeback Kid,’” Ms. Jens-Smith said in a statement Wednesday.

The general election will be held Nov. 3.