Larry Zacarese showed savvy in Suffolk sheriff's primary win – New York News

Rick Brand


Rick Brand is a longtime Newsday reporter who writes about politics and government on Long Island.

On primary night last Tuesday, unexpected winner Larry Zacarese told supporters he couldn’t “count the number of times he was called an amateur” when he first announced his run for Suffolk sheriff last year.

But he showed the savvy of a veteran political operative last week when he tapped a crucial and highly energized bloc: Gun owners who were angry at his opponent, state Sen. Phil Boyle, for voting for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s gun-control measure known as the SAFE Act.

Zacarese, assistant chief of the Stony Brook University police, drubbed Boyle in a GOP primary, in part due to two mailings to 3,000 gun owners throughout Suffolk. Zacarese also did ads on two local radio stations on the East End, where the gun issue is a significant concern and where the sheriff’s department handles gun licensing.

As a freshman senator, Boyle voted for the SAFE Act but said shortly thereafter that his vote “was a mistake.” Boyle further angered gun users by saying he might have realized the mistake “if we were given more than two hours to read the bill.”

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