Long Island Primary Preview: Local Races To Watch

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Workers prepare ballots from a drop box for the mail sorting machine during the presidential primary at King County Elections ballot processing center in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

Voters will decide this month between more than a dozen candidates on primary ballots in a half dozen races spanning all five congressional districts that comprise Long Island’s federal delegation. 

As usual, the most crowded field of contenders on the federal level is the four-way Democratic primary in which candidates are running for a chance in November to unseat U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in the first congressional district on LI’s East End. 

“He looks forward to building upon his work for Long Island and our nation in his third term,” Zeldin’s campaign said in a statement in response to the Democratic primary.

The primaries will decide who’s on ballots during the pivotal presidential election in which Republican President Donald Trump seeks a second term against Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden.

Vying for the Democratic line in the first congressional district race to face Zeldin are businessman Perry Gershon of East Setauket, Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Southampton), Stony Brook University professor Nancy Goroff, and business strategist Gregory-John Fischer of Calverton.

In the second congressional district on the South Shore of Nassau County and southwestern Suffolk County, the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), there are primaries on both sides of the aisle. Former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon of Copiague is facing lawyer Patricia Maher, while Republican nominee New York State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville) has a challenge from state Assemblyman Mike LiPetri (R-Massapequa).

In the third congressional district on the North Shore of Nassau, western Suffolk, and eastern Queens, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has two primary challengers: Former Brooklyn prosecutor Michael Weinstock of Great Neck and wellness coach Melanie D’Arrigo of Port Washington.

In the fourth congressional district representing south central Nassau from Mineola and Hicksville to Long Beach, Woodmere activist Cindy Grosz is running against Hempstead Town Commissioner of Engineering Douglas Tuman in the Republican primary. The winner will face U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City).

And in the fifth congressional district, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), who represents parts of southwestern Nassau, has a challenge in Shaniyat Chowdhury, a lawyer from Queens.

A handful of state legislative seats also have primaries on tap. The departure of longtime state Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) in the first state Senate District on the East End has prompted a five-way Democratic primary between Parents For Megan’s Law Executive Director Laura Ahearn of Port Jefferson, Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni (D-North Haven), Suffolk County Community College political science student Skyler Johnson of Mt. Sinai, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), and Nora Higgins, a Public Employees Federation regional coordinator from Ridge.

Running on the Republican line in that race is state Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk). Republican Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio is running to replace him in the second state Assembly District on the North Fork. Democratic primary voters will decide in that race between businessman William Schleisner of Sound Beach and former Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith. 

And in the sixth state Senate District in central Nassau, Hempstead Town Councilman Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown) and minor-party candidate Jonathan Gunther are both on primary ballots for the Libertarian Party line to challenge freshman state Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown).

The primaries will be held on June 23. Early voting will be held June 13 through June 21. Contact the Nassau or Suffolk board of elections for a list of local polling places for in-person voting.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered that all registered voters in New York State receive absentee ballots so they can mail in their vote to avoid potentially catching the virus at crowded polling stations. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by June 22. Return postage is paid.

“We’ve made great progress to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but we still don’t know when this pandemic will end and we don’t want to undo all the work we’ve already done to flatten the curve,” the governor said. “We don’t want to put New Yorkers in a situation where they are possibly putting their health at risk.”

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