Gay law school student John DeVito won the Democratic Party nomination for a seat in the New York State Senate on Long Island Tuesday night by defeating two challengers with greater name recognition in the Democratic primary.
DeVito, who has taken a leave of absence as a third year student at D.C.’s George Washington University Law School, received 40 percent of the vote compared to 31 percent for longtime civic activist Joseph Fritz and 28 percent for former Suffolk County Legislator Rick Montano.
DeVito, 25, would become the youngest member ever of the State Senate should he win the general election in November. He told the Long Island newspaper Newsday that his victory in the primary demonstrated the effectiveness of his message and his volunteer campaign workers.
“We showed everyone, including Republicans, what a young, driven person can do with grassroots support,” Newsday quoted him as saying.
DeVito will face Republican incumbent Tom Croci in the November general election in the state’s Third State Senate District, which is considered Republican leaning. The Third District includes about a dozen towns along or near Long Island’s south shore in Suffolk County.
Political observers say he has a shot at winning in a presidential election year in which Democratic presidential contender and former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is expected to help turn out more Democratic voters to the polls on Long Island. President Obama won the Third Senate District in 2008 and 2012.
DeVito has received the endorsement of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national group that raises money for LGBT candidates for public office across the country.