With a little less than two weeks until Election Day, we’re getting close to the end of our in-depth examination of the elections from a race-by-race standpoint. 

To briefly recap our previous highlights: 

  • Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) appears to be in the driver’s seat for the County Executive race against Dave Calone (D-Setauket). Political geography, the current shift in Suffolk’s mood towards the Republican Party, the twenty-year drought for the GOP at the County Executive level, and Romaine’s unique resume and credentials contribute to our forecast of Likely Republican for the race. 
  • The Republicans are favored to retain ten of their eleven currently-held seats. A net gain of one will deliver them a veto-proof supermajority.  
  • Republicans are also favored to flip three seats: the North Fork-based First, the Setauket-based Fifth, and the Rocky Point-based Sixth. 
  • Democrats are expected to hold at least four of their currently held seats, three based in western Suffolk in the Ninth, Fifteenth, and Seventeenth Districts, as well as the Second District, encompassing the entire South Fork. 
  • Democrats are favored to flip the Town Supervisorship of Southold, while expected to retain three other seats. The GOP is highly likely to retain control of Brookhaven, Islip, and Riverhead. 

Ratings Changes 

Suffolk County Legislature District Two moves from Likely Democrat to Leans Democrat. 

Suffolk County Legislature District Seven moves from Leans Republican to Likely Republican.  

Brookhaven Town Council District One moves from Leans Democrat to Toss Up. 

Suffolk County Legislature District Two 

Containing the entire South Fork, the Second District in the Legislature has been represented by Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) since 2015. Re-elected three times with no less than 59% of the vote across her four elections, Fleming has decided to retire from the Legislature this year, creating an open-seat scenario in an otherwise uncontestable district for the GOP. 

Our long-held rating of Likely Democrat was mainly due to an abundance of caution of Republican strength in perhaps the area most inhospitable to Republicans in Suffolk County. An open seat after the 2022 elections in which East End Democrats, namely Assemblyman Fred Thiele (D-Sag Harbor), did relatively poorly allowed us to believe there was a possibility this seat could be on the outskirts of the competitive table in the right environment. 

We believe that while still an underdog, retired state parks police officer, current Albany lobbyist, and Chair of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee Manny Vilar (R-Springs) is making an extraordinary play for such a long-shot seat. 

The Messenger caught up with Peter Ganley (R-Cutchogue), who gave East End Assemblyman Fred Thiele (D-Sag Harbor) a close race last year. 

“It’s always going to be an uphill battle for Republicans on the South Fork, but Southampton voters are incredibly engaged with their local government,” says Ganley. “I trust Southampton voters west of the canal to support the person over the party. Manny’s experience and qualifications far exceed those of his lackluster opponent. He has my total support and, in my view, is the obvious choice for LD-02. If Vilar can win big with working-class voters in the west end of his district, he has a solid path to victory on November 7.” 

We think that while some South Fork Republicans may come up short on Election Day, the race warrants watching, as this is perhaps the best opportunity Republicans have had in recent years to realistically contest the seat. A margin of around ten or eleven points for Vilar’s opponent, Southampton Town Trustee Ann Welker (D), is probably a decent bet given the intense Democratic lean of this district. But if Vilar wins, it means that Republicans have likely secured an unprecedented fourteen seats in the Legislature and Ed Romaine has won Suffolk-wide by at least fifteen points. 

Suffolk County Legislature District Seven 

When Dominick Thorne (R-Patchogue) unseated then-Presiding Officer Rob Calarco (D) in perhaps the most shocking upset of the 2021 regional red wave, the big question was: how would Thorne fulfill the post of Legislator? 

Now, with just two years under his belt, Thorne has delivered large results for each corner of his Patchogue-based district, including, but not limited too, maintenance of Canaan Lake, helping put Gordon Heights on the map in terms of commerce and safety, road and neighborhood cleanup initiatives, fiscal support for Patchogue’s commerce and business district, transformation of blighted properties from Blue Point to East Patchogue, and a constant visible presence within the community. Additionally, his sponsorship of legislation requiring police officers to carry epinephrine injectors (EpiPens) in their cars received the support of all eighteen Legislators and the signature of Executive Steve Bellone (D-West Babylon). 

While Thorne’s opponent Ryan McGarry (D-Patchogue) is putting a strong fight, we believe that Thorne’s granular knowledge of his district, his highly active first term, and the headwinds Democrats county-wide are likely to face this year contribute to us being more bullish on a second term for Thorne. 

Brookhaven Town Council District One 

In what was once a more electorally unremarkable part of Brookhaven for the GOP, Republican trends across Suffolk County in 2021 have also crashed ashore in Setauket, Stony Brook, and Port Jefferson. The First Council District, like the Fifth Legislative District, overlapping in this territory, finds itself in an identity crisis, as mainstream Democrats become increasingly endangered as the party continues to lose its twenty-year grip on Suffolk politics. 

While incumbent Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) received a lopsided 85% of the vote in a 2021 special election, it appears he will have to put up an actual fight this year, mainly because he has an actual fight on his hands. 

Special education teacher Gary Bodenburg (R-Port Jefferson Station) has embarked on an uphill campaign to oust Brookhaven’s lone elected Democrat in the bluest part of the Town. After Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson Station) ousted then-Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) in what was regarded as the most significant upset in the 2022 midterms, the district now finds itself in the eye of the hurricane, as down ballot energy from Ed Romaine will likely help pull Anthony Figliola (R-East Setauket) over the finish line in the Legislative race and will also likely assist Bodenburg from finishing within striking distance of Kornreich. 

It’s truly tough to say who – as of this moment – will win this race. Conventional political wisdom tempts us to believe Kornreich should have the benefit of the doubt of about two or three points, but ground game, internals, a close 2021 result of the Fifth District in the Legislature, and overall political environment lead us to believe Kornreich could certainly find himself two or three points short on Election Day. 

The key items to remember about previous results: in the 2021 special for this Council seat and the 2021 general for the Fifth Legislative District, both encompassing both areas, Republicans hardly tried for either. Kornreich was overwhelmingly elected, while then-Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) won her sixth and final term by just five points without a serious effort from the GOP. She had never won with less than 57% of the vote in previous years. 

This year, Republicans are trying at all levels, and Bodenburg is trying harder than many. This may certainly be a photo finish, but even if Kornreich is spared a shocking upset on Election Day, he’ll have essentially been put on notice by his constituents.  

At this point, we are designating Kornreich as the top member of our “Upset Watch” list, meaning that he has the likeliest chance of being upset on Election Day. 

We will issue one final Ratings Change and Race Preview column before Election Day. 

Previous articleToo Many Questions for “Colorado Calone” 
Next articleThis Week Today 
Matt Meduri has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Messenger Papers since August 2023. He is the author of the America the Beautiful, Civics 101, and This Week Today columns. Matt graduated from St. Joseph's University, Patchogue, in 2022, with a degree in Human Resources and worked for his family's IT business for three years. He's also a musician and composer with his sights set on the film industry. Matt has traveled all around the U.S. and enjoys cooking, photography, and a good cup of coffee.