5 Takeaways from Long Island’s August Primaries

august primaries
Robert Zimmerman declares victory with New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli
Photo by Ed Shin

A chaotic primary election season marred by lawsuits, repeatedly redrawn district lines and a court-ordered two-month delay in the congressional race vote reached an anticlimactic conclusion in the August primaries on Long Island.

Of the 15 candidates running in four congressional primaries — two each for Democrats in Nassau County and Republicans in Suffolk County — there were no upsets, with candidates either backed by their party or otherwise considered the favorite in their respective campaigns advancing to the general election in November. A pair of Democratic primaries in two of the nine New York State Senate districts on Long Island were similarly undramatic.

5 Takeaways from the August Primaries

Historic Race Ahead

The 3rd Congressional District results are significant because no matter who wins on Election Day, LI will have its first-ever openly gay member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic National Committeeman, faced the most competition of all the LI primaries — he was among five candidates. Republican George Santos was seeking a rematch against U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) before the congressman mounted an unsuccessful Democratic primary bid against Gov. Kathy Hochul instead of seeking re-election.

“A long time ago, our Congressional District wasn’t just [the North Shore of] Nassau and Queens,” Zimmerman said, alluding to the redistricting process. “They gave us Westchester and the Bronx. I turned to great borough presidents for guidance and support, and was so blessed to be honored and endorsed by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and former Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr.”

Zimmerman beat Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan (I-Syosset), Deputy Suffolk County Executive Jon Kaiman, community activist Melanie D’Arrigo, and businesswoman Reema Rasool.

august primaries
Laura Gillen celebrates her congressional primary win in Rockville Centre.By Joseph Palmisano

Comeback Kid

Former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen beat three other Democrats in the race to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) in the 4th Congressional District spanning south-central Nassau.

Gillen’s three opponents were Nassau Legislator Carrie Solages (D-Elmont), Malverne Village Mayor Keith Corbett, and Muzibul Huq, a doctor and first-time political candidate.

“Tonight is a victory, but the hard work is really just beginning. It’s not the end, it’s the start of a national fight against the most extreme threats to our democracy,” Gillen told supporters at a watch party in Rockville Centre Tuesday evening. “Let’s come together now we have to keep this seat blue in November.”

Gillen was the first Democrat to win a Hempstead Town Supervisor race in more than a century in 2017. She faces Republican Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito on Election Day.

Eyes on the East

Nick LaLota, the GOP nominee to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in the 1st Congressional District, fended off two Republicans in the August primaries.

LaLota, who serves as chief of staff to Suffolk County Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), beat former Brookhaven Town Deputy Supervisor Anthony Figliola and Michelle Bond, a cryptocurrency trade group leader.

“Tonight we celebrate a win against $3 million in outside special interests,” LaLota tweeted. “Tomorrow, we fight for our community and country against the Biden-Pelosi agenda.”

The district includes all five East End towns and was redrawn this year to include the entire North Shore of Suffolk. LaLota will face Suffolk Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) in the general election. Zeldin will be at the top of the ticket as he runs to unseat Hochul.

L. to R.: Robert Cornicelli, Andrew Garbarino and Mike Rakebrandt

New Dean?

Freshman U.S. Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville), who beat a pair of Republican challengers in the 2nd Congressional District in the August primaries, will be the most tenured member of the Island’s Congressional Delegation if he wins reelection. He won over Robert Cornicelli and Mike Rakebrandt.

“I am incredibly grateful for the overwhelming grassroots support for my re-election that we’ve seen over the last few weeks,” Garbarino said. “We are going to carry this enthusiasm and momentum straight through to November.”

Garbarino will face a rematch on Election Day against former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon (D-Copiague), who lost to the congressman in 2020.

Senatorial Showdown

Former New York State Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) is poised to make a political comeback after winning a Democratic primary in a newly redrawn state Senate district in which Hispanic residents make up the majority.

Martinez beat state Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) in the 4th State Senate District, one of two state Senate Democratic August primaries Tuesday on Long Island. Despite the loss, Ramos will remain on ballots this fall as he simultaneously sought re-election to the Assembly seat that he has held for two decades.

“Tonight I am both humbled by this victory and grateful for the support of so many who turned out to make it happen,” Martinez said. “I could not be more proud to have earned this nomination.”

Republican former Islip Town Tax Receiver Alexis Weik unseated Martinez in 2020 after Martinez served one term. Weik is now running for the seat being vacated by outgoing state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore).

In the other local state Senate Democratic primary, state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) beat challenger Jeremy M. Joseph.

-With Briana Bonfiglio, Ethan Marshall and Joseph Palmisano