Fifteen candidates running in four primaries across five Long Island congressional districts are seeking to secure their place on ballots in the November midterm elections, with many of those races proving competitive.
With three local congressional representatives not seeking re-election to their seats, there will be no incumbent having the advantage of running on their record in most of the races for these open seats.
Here are the congressional hopefuls asking Democratic and Republican voters to make them their candidate in the general election this fall.
1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who won the June GOP gubernatorial primary in a bid to unseat Gov. Kathy Hochul, has represented this East End district since 2015. It has been redistricted to include the North Shore of Suffolk County. Suffolk Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) is the Democratic nominee in the race and faces no primary challengers. Three Republicans are vying for their party’s line.
The Suffolk County Republican Committee nominated Nicholas LaLota, a former commissioner of the Suffolk Board of Elections and ex-Village of Amityville trustee who currently serves as chief of staff to Suffolk Legislator Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), the new presiding officer of the county legislature. The married father of three and U.S. Navy veteran is in the process of moving his family into the new district.
“I accepted the nomination and pledge to do my part to put the House’s gavel back in the right hands,” tweeted LaLota, alluding to the GOP’s bid to flip the U.S. House of Representatives from its current Democratic majority under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in November.
A cryptocurrency trade group leader who graduated from Miller Place High School is the most recent candidate to throw a hat in the ring challenging LaLota for the GOP line.
Michelle Bond is CEO of the Association for Digital Asset Markets, a former senior counsel to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, rents a home in Port Jefferson, and attended Stony Brook University. She touts her business acumen as giving her the experience needed in Washington, D.C.
“I’m a businesswoman, not a politician,” said Bond. “We need problem solvers, not more career politicians looking for their next gig.”
This former Brookhaven Town deputy supervisor from East Setauket is running because he believes the district is in crisis due to higher costs making it harder for families to make ends meet. Also among his top issues is repealing Covid-19 mandates.
“Power-hungry politicians in Washington and in Blue states such as New York have found a way to bypass the legislative process issuing edicts to the people,” he said. “As your Congressman I will fight against these unconstitutional mandates that are trampling on our individual liberties. This is a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. Let us now make history by reclaiming the freedoms that originated here in America.”
2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Freshman U.S. Rep. Andrew R. Garbarino (R-Sayville), the only congressman seeking re-election whose district is located entirely in Nassau and Suffolk counties, represents the South Shore from Massapequa to the Hamptons. He is facing two Republican challengers. The winner will face former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon (D-Copiague), who is seeking a rematch against Garbarino after losing to him in 2020.
ANDREW R. GARBARINO
An attorney who served four terms as a New York State assemblyman and survived a prior GOP primary before winning his congressional seat, Garbarino is the only primary candidate on Long Island with a congressional voting record to review.
In his first days in office in 2021, Garbarino voted against impeaching then-U.S. President Donald Trump after Congress charged Trump with inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol. Like Trump’s first impeachment, the U.S. Senate acquitted Trump. Garbarino did, however, vote for certifying President Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.
He later voted for Biden’s infrastructure funding law, but has said he’s opposed to Biden’s Build Back Better bill.
This retired U.S. Army captain and Navy veteran from Ronkonkoma has touted having support of veterans groups and Trump allies. He was initially running in the 1st Congressional District before switching to challenging Garbarino following the redistricting process.
“I love America and all her people,” he said. “Our campaign thinks it best to take the fight to the 2nd so we can help people who need it, so that’s what we’re doing.”
Rakebrandt is a U.S. Navy veteran from Holbrook who served in Iraq and later joined the New York City Police Department. He said he would have voted against Biden’s infrastructure bill.
“Our forefathers fought, as we do, for a government that consults with its people and seeks their guidance on the future of this great republic,” he said. “I have shed blood for that freedom from Ramadi to the streets of Brooklyn, and I will continue to do so in your names in Washington, D.C.”
3RD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Instead of seeking re-election, three-term U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) mounted an unsuccessful Democratic primary bid against Hochul, who won the gubernatorial primary. That opened up a five-way congressional primary in the race to replace Suozzi. The winner will face Republican George A.D. Santos, who previously tried to oust Suozzi.
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, currently co-chairs the Suffolk County Police Reform Task Force.
“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.”
ROBERT P. ZIMMERMAN
Robert Zimmerman is a publicist and Democratic National Committee member from Great Neck. If either Santos or Zimmerman win, they would be the first openly gay member of Congress to represent Long Island. One of Zimmerman’s top priorities is to combat gun violence.
“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.”
Three-term Nassau Legislator Josh Lafazan (I-Syosset) is an independent who caucuses with the county legislature’s Democratic minority. He 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. He is vying to become the youngest Democrat elected to Congress.
He 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.”
Oyster Bay business woman Reema Rasool said she’s running for office because “politicians as usual” can’t fix what ails America.
“I believe that we need fighters like me who have empathy and fire to fight for issues because I’ve been there,” she said. “The middle class is becoming the missing class in America and we are worried about labels and catch phrases that are only used to divide us. Healthcare should not be a partisan issue, saving our planet should not be a partisan issue, we are all Americans and we all want and deserve to live a life with dignity and security. … The political class in this country just doesn’t get it.”
Melanie D’Arrigo, a progressive community advocate and healthcare worker from Port Washington, 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.”
4TH CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARY
Four-term U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), who represents most of the southern half of Nassau County, bowed out earlier this year. Five Democrats are vying to keep the seat in their party’s hands. The winner will face Republican Anthony P. D’Esposito.
KEITH M. CORBETT
Keith Corbett was elected Mayor of Malverne in 2019 and has now decided to run for Congress. He is an election law and voting rights attorney and has often advocated for voting rights and the environment throughout his career.
Previously as an attorney, Corbett has represented President Barack Obama and has counseled President Joe Biden’s campaign. Corbett is also the Democratic Party Law Chair, which has allowed him to work on voter protection programs.
A few of Corbett’s key issues are protecting women’s right to make their own medical decisions, protecting the environment, funding the police, and protecting citizens’ voting rights.
LAURA A. GILLEN
In 2017, Laura Gillen became the first Democratic supervisor of the Town of Hempstead in a century, where she managed operations of all town departments. She served one term.
Gillen attended Georgetown University where she studied government, and later returned to Georgetown to study law before transferring to NYU School of Law in 1998. After earning her JD in 2000, Gillen worked at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP then Westerman Ball Law Firm where she practiced litigation and worked on a variety of different matters. Later she went on to become an adjunct professor of law at Hofstra University.
Gillen hopes to take on the affordability crisis if elected, as well as advocate for gun safety, women’s reproductive rights, mental health, voting rights, and much more.
Nassau legislator Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) is currently serving his fifth term.
He is a former Bronx Assistant District Attorney and has practiced law throughout New York as a partner at his law firm, known as Solages & Solages. Before being elected to the legislature, Solages served as commissioner for the Nassau County Commission on Human Rights.
He hopes to support small businesses, fix income inequality, enhance police and community relations, reshape our military, and much more.
Dr. Muzibul Huq is a physician and general surgeon by training. While training as a surgeon in the United Kingdom, Huq was elected president of the race relations council.
Before immigrating to the United States 15 years ago, Huq built a general hospital, OB/GYN clinic, and medical college. After immigrating, Huq worked as an instructor in the medical faculty of different health professional schools to help minorities and new immigrant Americans to get jobs in the healthcare industry.
Huq hopes to rebuild Long Island’s infrastructure, create racial harmony, and build upon Covid-19 relief systems.
5TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
There are no primaries in the 5th congressional district, in which U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), who represents a southwest corner of Nassau, has been in office since 1998.
Early voting in the congressional primary runs from Aug. 12 to Aug. 21.
-With Julia Rocca Virnelli