Island Vote: Martinez vying to be 1st woman state senator for 3rd District

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Half a dozen races on Long Island could change the balance of power in the state Senate in the midterm elections, and a candidate in one of the most closely watched races is hoping to make history by avoiding past mistakes.

Monica Martinez, a Democrat from Brentwood, is vying to become the first female state senator for New York's 3rd District, which encompasses much of Suffolk's South Shore in the towns of Islip and Brookhaven. A victory would also make her the first Democrat elected to the seat in a decade.

MORE COVERAGE: Island Vote 2018

The last time was when Brian Foley upset longtime Republican incumbent Cesar Trunzo, and helped Democrats establish their first state Senate majority in 65 years. But Foley served just one term, and was soundly defeated after voting for the now infamous MTA payroll tax.

Back then, Republicans said it was proof that when Democrats lead, Long Island foots the bill for New York City's interests. It's the same argument they're using on the campaign trail now -- but Martinez says she'll be an independent voice in Albany.

"There was a mistake that took place 10 years ago," she says. "That doesn't mean it's going to happen again, and it's definitely not going to happen on my watch."

Martinez's opponent is Assemblyman Dean Murray, of East Patchogue. He says a vote for him is a vote to ensure that Long Island keeps its seat at the table in Albany.

"The agenda comes from the leadership," says Murray. "The leadership right now in the Senate is from Suffolk County -- that's fantastic for us. But if it flips, the leadership will be from New York City, and that's who drives the agenda."

The winner of the race will replace Republican incumbent Tom Croci, who is not seeking re-election. Political analysts say this district could become a real battleground, with the chance for late funding to come in in an effort to turn the tables on either side.

Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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