Assistant Chief of Police Lawrence M. Zacarese, above, won the Republican primary for Suffolk County sheriff Tuesday, Sept. 12 against State Senator Philip Boyle. It still remains unclear if he will remain with university police if he wins in November. SAHER JAFRI/STATESMAN FILE

Assistant Chief of Police and Director of Campus Emergency Management Lawrence Zacarese came out on top against State Senator Philip Boyle in the Republican primary for Suffolk County sheriff on Tuesday night. The polls closed at 9 p.m. and Zacarese declared victory shortly after.

“We have a lot of work to do for the general election, of course,” Zacarese said in a video posted to his Facebook page at 10:18 p.m. on Tuesday. “But tonight we celebrate a hard fought victory.”

First-time candidate Zacarese defeated Boyle with 56 percent of the nearly 22,000 votes cast, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. If elected in November, Zacarese’s new position as sheriff will bring along the prestige of being the highest-ranking law enforcement official in Suffolk County. The county jails and 250 sheriff deputies are housed within the sheriff’s office.

Boyle, who served in the state assembly from 1994 to 2012, has been in the state Senate ever since. According to Newsday, Boyle conceded shortly after 10 p.m., but did not rule out seeking the Democratic endorsement in the general election in November.

Zacarese ran after Vincent DeMarco, the current county sheriff and a member of the Conservative Party, who opted not to seek a fourth term. DeMarco’s decision came after he angered party leaders for launching an investigation that sent the Suffolk County Conservative Party boss Edward Walsh to prison. Walsh, who was a lieutenant within the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, was convicted on federal charges of wire fraud and theft of government services.

Boyle was endorsed by the Conservative Party and was the favored candidate by Republican Party officials. The state senator represents District 4, which encompasses parts of Jones Beach, Brentwood, Ronkonkoma and Bay Shore. He has no law enforcement experience, but cites his decades-long career of working alongside law enforcement as a legislator as qualification for the job.

Boyle’s campaign was marred in scandal, including the belief by some that he was Walsh’s handpicked favorite for the job – in part because Walsh’s wife, Patricia, works in Boyle’s office.

Newsday’s editorial board endorsed Zacarese in the primary because “the circumstances that set up Boyle’s candidacy reek, and should offend anyone who believes in elections of integrity and openness.”

Zacarese joined the university police department in 2009 after serving in the New York City Police Department for 11 years. It is unclear at the time of publication whether Zacarese will continue his work with UPD if he wins in November. His connection to the university dates back to the ’90s, when he worked as a paramedic for two years. He has a law degree and a master’s degree in public administration. He started a Smithtown-based law firm in 2015.

The general election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7.