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Long Island Voters Head To Polls Tuesday To Elect Candidate For Dean Skelos' Seat

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The presidential primaries won't be the only closely-watched race Tuesday on Long Island as voters will head to the polls to replace embattled Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Skelos and his son, Adam Skelos, will be sentenced on April 28 after being convicted on corruption charges.

CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Monday that polls are showing it may be too close to call with 5 to 8 percentage points separating candidates Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, D-Long Beach, and Republican Christopher McGrath.

"There's no doubt this race is about corruption. People know why we are voting in the middle of April and they are going to want someone who believes it is a serious problem and has a plan to address that," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky, a former federal corruptions prosecutor, pounded the pavement in Skelos' hometown of Rockville Centre on Monday, telling voters he's focused on ethics reform.

A win for Kaminsky could help flip control of the state Senate. Republicans control the chamber thanks to a coalition with six breakaway Democrats.

"The balance of power in New York state rests on this," McGrath said. "This is the most important race in New York state history, and I'm glad to be the Republican candidate to keep this Senate Republican."

McGrath, of Hewlett, is a partner in a Garden City law firm and adjunct Hofstra law professor. He's a political newcomer who wants to set term limits and strip pensions of corrupt elected officials.

"We need to retain our identity in Nassau County. The Democrats, the last time they controlled the Senate, they hurt us financially," McGrath supporter Jack Barry said.

Adam Zagoria believes that Kaminsky is the best bet to fight corruption.

"I'm not a partisan, but I think the conversation should be," Zagoria said.

Tuesday could bring confusion and chaos in the ballot box as some are banned from voting in the presidential primary.

"You can't be an independent, you can't be a conservative, can't be a Green Party member, you've got to be a Republican or Democrat," Lawrence Levy, dean of the Hofstra Center for Suburban Studies, said. "Once you take care of that you can fill out a ballot if you are in any party, or no party, for the state Senate special election.

The winner of the special election will have to run again in November when all state Senate and assembly seats are up.

Lawrence Hirsch, a 56-year-old accountant from Valley Stream, is running on the Green Party Line.

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