By Stephen J. Kotz
With a jubilant crowd cheering and chanting, “Lee! Lee! Lee!,” State Senator Lee Zeldin claimed victory Tuesday night in the 1st Congressional District, where he handily defeated six-term Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Bishop.
Although many projected a tight race that might take days, or even weeks to resolve, the contest was over early, with Mr. Zeldin’s lead steadily growing to 55 percent of the vote to Mr. Bishop’s 45 percent by night’s end. According to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Mr. Zeldin received 89,564 votes to Mr. Bishop’s 73,860 votes.
“We can’t change Washington unless we change who we send there to represent us,” Mr. Zeldin told the crowd that had gathered to watch the returns at the Emporium in Patchogue. “And that’s what you did tonight!”
“Across our nation, we took decisive action to fix America,” he said, noting that Republicans had won a majority in the Senate and added to their majority in the House to provide a “much needed check on the agenda of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.”
Mr. Zeldin, who thanked his supporters and party regulars, began his speech with a simple, “Victory is sweet, isn’t it?”
He said he was able to maintain the grind of the campaign trail large part because of the of the focus and drive of his supporters.
Mr. Bishop conceded shortly after 10 p.m. from the Islandia Marriott, where he and his supporters gathered.
“A few minutes ago, I called Senator Zeldin and I offered him my congratulations and I pledged to him the full cooperation of my staff and, of course, me as we go through this transition over the next several weeks,” Mr. Bishop said. “It is a very important job. The people of this district deserve that it be done at the highest possible level. I think we have done that over the 12 years that I have had the good fortune to serve you.”
He added that he and Mr. Zeldin had had a “very gracious conversation.”
“I believe I and my staff have done this job in a way that characterizes or defines professionalism, so we are going to transition from this job in the same way,” he said.
“I want to thank all of you. I got to stand where I am standing 12 years ago in many cases because of the exact same people who are standing here tonight,” Mr. Bishop said.
There were no surprises in other races, although Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., who won his 12th term, received most of his votes as a Democrat, even though he is a member of the Independence Party.
Mr. Thiele received 18,346 votes, or 60.3 percent of the vote on the Democratic, Independence, and Working Families lines, to turn back Republican Heather Collins, who received 9,898 votes, or 32.5 percent of the votes. Brian De Sesa, a Sag Harbor attorney, received 2,162 votes, or 7.1 percent, running on the Conservative line.
But 14,852 of Mr. Thiele’s votes were as a Democrat, while he received only 1,991 from those voting Independence Party and 1,503 on the Working Families line.
“I am extremely grateful to East End voters for their continued confidence in me,” Mr. Thiele said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “I look forward to continuing to advocate for the East End in Albany and improving our quality of life and the outlook for our future.”
Republican State Senator Kenneth P LaValle also cruised to victory to win his 19th two-year term. He received 53,220 votes, or 70.4 percent of the total, to easily defeat Democrat Michael Conroy, who received 22,297 votes, or 29.5 percent of the vote.
In other races, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Governor Kathy C. Hochul turned back the challenge of Republican Rob Astorino and Chris Moss. The Democrats received nearly 54 percent of the vote to 40.5 percent for Mr. Astorino and Mr. Moss.
Also sweeping to victory in state races were Democratic Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who received 60 percent of the vote, to best Republican Robert Antonacci, who received 36.6 percent, and Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who received 55.5 percent of the vote to defeat Republican John Cahill, who received 41.6 percent.
Judith A. Pascale, who was cross-endorsed by Republicans and Democrats, was elected Suffolk County clerk, and Republican John M. Kennedy defeated Democrat James F. Gaughran to win the county comptroller race, receiving 53.2 percent of the vote to Mr. Gaughran’s 46.8 percent.
Three propositions on the state ballot, one aimed at removing politics from the redistricting process; one to allow bills in the state legislature to be sent to members electronically; and another to borrow $2 billion for school technology projects, all passed.
Two county propositions, one that eliminates the office of treasurer and one that repays money borrowed from the county’s clean drinking water fund and tightens rules for how money can be borrowed from the fund in the future, also passed.
A proposition in Southampton Town that would allow the town to swap a parcel of land purchased with money from the Community Preservation Fund with another parcel owned by the county, so improvements can be made to the Riverside traffic circle also passed.