Tuesday, January 09, 2007

NY Dems nominate county legislator Johnson for Senate

Newsday AP Story

Let the games begin..........andy

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (AP) _ Craig Johnson, a popular county legislator, was nominated Monday to run for a key state Senate seat being left vacant by Michael Balboni's departure to Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer's administration as chief of homeland security. Johnson, 35, will face Maureen O'Connell, a former Republican state assemblywoman and the current Nassau County clerk, in the Feb. 6 election. Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau County Democrats, said Johnson comes to the table with a solid record and base of supporters. "He knows how to campaign, voters are used to voting for him and he has an excellent record in the Legislature," Jacobs said. Johnson was elected to the 11th Legislative District in a special election in 2000 after the death of the former legislator, Barbara Johnson, his mother. He was re-elected to the post in 2001 and 2003. In 2005, he received 73 percent of the votes, Jacobs said. The race for the 7th Senate District seat is considered a possible opening for Democrats on Long Island, where they hold a slight advantage in voter registration, 78,000 to 72,000. Long Island Democrats have pulled off impressive victories for county executive and district attorney and have dominated most congressional elections in recent years, but they have yet to crack the GOP's domination in the state Senate, where all nine seats are held by Republicans. Balboni abandoned a possible run for state attorney general last year in part because of concerns that move could cost the GOP, which holds a 33-28 advantage over Democrats in the state Senate with his departure. O'Connell, 56, won Balboni's state Assembly seat when he moved to the Senate in 1999 and hopes to follow the same path into the Senate. She said she is running with backing from the Conservative and Independence parties. She also has served as a trustee and deputy mayor of East Williston and is a registered nurse and lawyer. Jacobs said the seat has been occupied by the GOP "for about a hundred years."

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