Voters returned incumbent Steve Israel to Congress for the seventh time Tuesday, supplying the Dix Hills Democrat with a big margin of victory of Republican challenger Stephen Labate.
Israel led Labate by more than 20,000 votes with the majority of Suffolk County and about three-quarters of Nassau tallied in unofficial returns. Libertarian Michael McDermott and Constitution Party candidate Anthony Tolda were also on the ballot for the Third Congressional District race.
Queens results were not immediately available.
Labate, of Deer Park, is a financial planner and a military veteran. He currently holds the rank of lieutenant colonel. Labate has been called to active service three times since the attacks of Sept. 11, including a lengthy deployment to Iraq.
The Republican has made economic matters a major part of his platform, supporting pro-growth policies and less government involvement.
His staff made headlines with a story about the short sale of Israel's home, alleging the congressman received special treatment in the deal. No evidence of special treatment ever surfaced.
Israel, 54, has served the Second Congressional District since 2001. He's running for his seventh term in the newly reconstituted Third District, which includes Commack, Huntington and Dix Hills and new communities from Whitestone and Douglaston in Queens to Great Neck, Port Washington and Glen Cove.
Israel is a graduate of Nassau Community College and George Washington University. He is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. He's known for his stance on energy security, support of the state of Israel and securing federal funds for area veterans and protecting the Long Island Sound.
After an unsuccessful run at the Suffolk County Legislature in the 1980s, Israel won a seat as a Councilman for the Town of Huntington in 1993, where he served until 2001.
In November, 2000, Israel beat out Joan Johnson to replace Rep. Rick Lazio, who gave up his seat to run for Senate. He's won his previous six Congressional elections by double-digit margins.Candidate Votes Percent Rep. Steve Israel (D) 96,083 56.8 Stephen A. Labate (R) 71,984 42.6 Michael McDermott (Libertarian) 876 0.05 Anthony Tolda (Constitution)