By Emily Toy
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Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming came out on top in the Democratic primary for the 1st District New York State Senate race last Thursday.
The Noyac resident bested Rocky Point litigation lawyer Jennifer Maertz and will go head to head against 36-year incumbent Republican State Senator Ken LaValle in November. The 1st Senatorial District Fleming hopes to represent, covers the five East End towns and eastern Brookhaven Town.
Unofficial results posted from the Suffolk County Board of Elections found Fleming earning 2031 votes in the primary, totaling nearly 80 percent of voters supporting her bid for the Democratic nomination. Maertz earned 531 votes last Thursday, representing 20.67 percent of the votes cast.
Fleming said she was very pleased with the outcome and praised Maertz for her efforts, noting that she hopes to work with Maertz in the future on community issues.
So far, the Sag Harbor matrimonial lawyer has been endorsed by nearly a dozen organizations including the Working Families Party, the Long Island Environmental Voters Forum, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Women's Campaign Fund.
"With this groundswell of support, it's clear that Eastern Long Island agrees that our children deserve better," the councilwoman said. "It's an honor to have so many diverse groups support the campaign."
So far LaValle has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, the New York State Unified Teachers, and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association of New York, to name a few. The state senator issued a statement on Friday addressing the results from the primary.
"No matter who the opponent, I have always run on my record," he said. "I am proud of my exceptionally strong record of economic development, job creation, and real property tax relief, and proud of the support I have received in the form of endorsements thus far . . . I expect to receive and will announce many more endorsements in the coming days and weeks."
Maertz attributed her defeat to Fleming to very low voter turnouts throughout the state for the primary as well as insufficient funding in comparison with her opponent.
Fleming reportedly drummed up nearly $58,000 during her campaign, while Maertz had about $3500.
"I respect the fact that money does play a big role in politics and in this race . . .," she said. "Unfortunately, I think it played a very big role."
A debate between LaValle and Fleming will be hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons on October 15 in Hampton Bays, and again on October 22 in East Hampton with locations yet to be announced.
If elected, Fleming would become the first woman to serve as a Long Island state senator in nearly three decades and the first ever from Suffolk County.