Anthony Palumbo, who has held the 2nd District state Assembly position for the past seven years, has now emerged as the Republican front-runner to seek the state Senate position held by Kenneth LaValle for the past 44 years.
Mr. LaValle announced his decision to not seek reelection earlier this month.
“In consultation with my leaders in the East End and my partners in the Conservative party, I feel very confident that he will be our nominee for the 1st Senate District,” said Jesse Garcia, the Suffolk County Republican chairman.
“Mr. Palumbo has been the most articulate and experienced lawmaker on the issue of repealing the ill-fated bail reform that’s just putting hardened criminals back into our neighborhoods,” Mr. Garcia said. “He has an accomplished environmental record that is balanced with being a small businessman, where he knows how to meet a payroll.”
The Suffolk Republican nominating convention is scheduled for Feb. 20 in Farmingdale, but Mr. Garcia believes an announcement from the Republicans formally backing Mr. Palumbo will be made before then.
Mr. Palumbo, 49, who lives in New Suffolk, currently serves an Assembly district that encompasses all of the North Fork and parts of Brookhaven Town.
The 1st Senate district covers all of the East End and parts of eastern Brookhaven Town.
“I’m hopeful we’re going to gain some seats back and get close to, if not regain the majority,” Mr. Palumbo said. “The way that this progressive one-party rule of government has gone is just so contrary to what’s best for Long Island, and I’ll have a bigger voice in the senate.”
Traditionally, Democrats have dominated the state Assembly and Republicans have held the majority in the state Senate. But two years ago, the Democrats overtook the Republican’s slim majority and now have a nine-member advantage in the Senate.
Among the other candidates who were considered by the Republicans to run for the Senate seat was Brookhaven Town Council members Dan Panico and Jane Bonner and Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.
Mr. Garcia said Republicans will screen candidates for the assembly seat on Feb. 6. Ms. Giglio and Ms. Bonner are in the second assembly district, and other candidates are expected to come forward as well, Mr. Garcia said.
The Democrats have considered victim’s rights advocate Laura Ahearn, Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni, college student Skyler Johnson and Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright for the Senate seat, according to committee chair Rich Schaffer, who said there will be no Democratic convention. The candidates will all run in an at-large primary for the nomination.
Former Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, a Democrat from Laurel, had already announced her intention to run for the 2nd District Assembly seat prior to Mr. Palumbo’s decision to run for Senate.
It’s unclear how many of the Republicans who sought the Senate seat will now turn to the Assembly seat.