Ten candidates have amassed over $2 million in combined campaign donations in the race for New York State’s 3rd Congressional District, which was recently redrawn to stretch from Long Island to Westchester.
The fundraising tally is based on the latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) data and statements from the seven Democrats and three Republicans running in the June 28 congressional primary for a chance to replace outgoing three-term U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who is running for governor instead of a fourth term.
“Our fundraising strength, together with endorsements from a broad coalition of prominent leaders from across our district and New York State, speak to the growing momentum behind our campaign and the resonance of our message with the voters,” said Robert Zimmerman, a publicist and Democratic National Committee member from Great Neck whose campaign reports receiving $650,000 in donations since declaring his candidacy in January.
Republican George Santos, an economist from Queens who unsuccessfully tried to unseat Suozzi two years ago, appeared to be leading the pack with $755,513 in donations as of the campaign finance reports for the fourth quarter released on Dec. 31, according to the FEC, which will share the data the first quarter on April 15. If either Santos or Zimmerman win, they would be the first openly gay member of Congress to represent Long Island.
“I’m a next-generation Republican and I’m in this fight to bring common-sense solutions to Washington,” Santos said.
Suozzi is among three of LI’s five-member congressional delegation not seeking re-election. Four-term U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), who represents most of the southern half of Nassau County, bowed out last month and four-term U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), whose district covers the East End, won the Republican nomination in his gubernatorial bid this week. Twelve-term U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), whose district includes a sliver of western Nassau, and freshman U.S. Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville), whose district spans the South Shore of Nassau and Suffolk, are both running for re-election.
The race will be the first since New York State lawmakers recently redrew the congressional district lines under the decennial redistricting process that GOP advocates filed a lawsuit to block, alleging Democrats tilted the odds in their favor. Suozzi’s district currently runs from Kings Park in Suffolk County to the Whitestone section of Queens. It was redrawn to stretch from Stony Brook in Suffolk, across Nassau’s Gold Coast to Bayside in Queens, where it crosses the Throgs Neck Bridge and now includes the easternmost waterfront areas of the Bronx and runs up to the Connecticut state line in Rye Brook.
The redrawn lines opened the door for two-term State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Pelham), who threw her hat in the ring last month. The attorney and granddaughter of former congressman Mario Biaggi is hoping for a repeat of the 2018 upset when she unseated state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), the former leader of the Independent Democratic Conference. Her latest campaign figures were not immediately available.
“I am running for Congress … to bring progressive and honest leadership to the frontlines of our country’s most important fights,” she said. “As the representative of the Sound, I will work to combat climate change and protect our shorelines, expand voting rights, enact universal pre-K to support working parents, provide opportunity and relief for the middle class, protect abortion rights, ensure public safety and a fair criminal legal system, and deliver affordable healthcare for all.”
Among the candidates with the biggest campaign war chests is three-term Nassau Legislator Josh Lafazan (I-Syosset), whose campaign reports $700,000 in donations. That’s up from $452,548.00 since Lafazan, an independent who caucuses with the county legislature’s Democratic minority, declared his candidacy in December. Lafazan, who holds the record for being the youngest person to win a run for elected office — a title previously held by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli — when Lafazan won a seat on the Syosset school board in 2013 at age 18, is vying to become the youngest Democrat elected to Congress. He recently proposed imposing term limits on members of Congress — to two six-year terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and two six-year terms in the U.S. Senate.
“For far too long, we have seen men and women elected to serve in Congress and they have stayed for decades and decades,” said Lafazan. “When that happens, they lose touch with the very people they have sworn an oath to represent and that is no good for anyone. Self-imposed term limits are the only way to end that vicious cycle for the good of the country.”
Ranking fourth in the race for donations is Melanie D’Arrigo, a progressive community advocate and healthcare worker from Port Washington who’s raised $225,879 as of Dec. 31, FEC filings show. D’Arrigo had already declared in November a rematch of her 2020 Democratic primary bid against Suozzi before the incumbent announced his plan to seek higher office, opening up the field.
“For months, our campaign has been building a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, multi-racial coalition grounded in the idea that our government should work for us,” she said. “We are here to take this seat back from the lobbyists and restore the voices of our families in Congress. We are ready to fight for universal healthcare, bold action on climate, voting rights and real relief for our communities — and we will win.”
Another big-name Democrat in the race is Suffolk County Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman, of Great Neck, who previously served as North Hempstead town supervisor and chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. He currently co-chairs the Suffolk County Police Reform Task Force. His campaign tally was not immediately available.
“I believe that we must focus on building a strong economy so that our local businesses and communities can thrive,” he said. “We must address the changing weather and warming of our planet as an existential crisis. We must protect the public as with law enforcement as a partner while holding a firm line on transparency and accountability. We must mitigate the dangers posed by COVID by promoting vaccinations and respecting the necessary methods to limit transmission. I also believe that we must preserve a woman’s right to choose; ensure our civil rights; and pursue and achieve social justice.”
Besides Santos, joining conservative faithful in betting on a repeat of last year’s red wave — the increased GOP voter turnout in response to Democratic President Joe Biden unseating former Republican President Donald Trump — on Election Day is Plainview resident Dr. Harvey Manes, a long-time orthopedic surgeon, attorney, and philanthropist whose Manes Peace Prize Foundation helps fund Crime Stoppers’ gun buybacks, among other initiatives. The self-funded candidate said he plans to commit $2 million of his own money to his run.
“I’m funding my own race and will take direction from no one except the voters who elect me,” said Dr. Manes, listing his priorities as cutting government spending, reducing crime, closing the Southern border, and reversing COVID-19 mandates. “I am a man of the people and not the Washington establishment. I will dedicate my time and my resources to put a non-politician in this seat who has no motive except to do what’s right for America.”
Also running in Democratic primary is Oyster Bay business woman Reema Rasool, who said her campaign has received $120,000 as of last month.
Rounding out the list of candidates is Queens progressive Navjot Pal Kaur, who neither reported any donations as of Dec. 31 nor could be reached for comment. And the most recent candidate to jump into the race is progressive Joshua Chan, who said he is the only Latino among the congressional hopefuls.
“We cannot just blindly support young candidates, we need to support candidates with
substance and values who align with our own,” said Chan, suggesting that policies such as Medicare for all, the Green New Deal and tuition-free public college “will positively affect the lives of our young Americans.”
As for Zimmerman, he plans to outline his proposals to combat gun violence at a press conference scheduled for Monday while joined by Linda Beigel Schulman, a gun violence prevention advocate whose son was Scott Beigel, a Long Island native among 17 students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. who lost his life to a 19-year-old gunman who opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle in 2018.
“We have to restore people’s confidence that our government is there for them,” Zimmerman said. “Too many feel overlooked and unseen. It is my commitment to lift up the voices of those who are not being heard. Whether it’s veterans, middle class families trying to balance the pressures of everyday living or our senior citizens, people in our communities deserve to have a member of Congress that they can trust will have their back.”
Update: This story has been updated to reflect that Republican candidate Kevin Surdi is no longer in the race for the 3rd Congressional District and progressive candidate Joshua Chan has declared his candidacy.