Residents of the 3rd congressional district will head to the polls on Tuesday for the Republican primary election that will decide if Grant Lally, Stephen Labate or both will challenge Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) in the November midterm elections.
Both Lally and Labate have advanced past the Republican and Conservative primary elections to unsuccessfully challenge an incumbent Democratic congressman in the past.
In 1994 and 1996, Lally challenged then-Congressman Gary Ackerman for the third congressional district seat. Labate unsuccessfully ran against Israel in 2012 election and in 2010 stepped aside to allow John Gomez to run as the Republican and Conservative candidate against Israel.
Lally said that the third congressional district is “ready for a Republican congressman.”
“Steve Israel used to represent a much more Democratic district before redistricting,” he said. “This is a new district and I think he’s very out of step with the people.”
Israel had previously represented the 2nd congressional district, which encompassed all of Suffolk County and portions of eastern Nassau County. The 3rd congressional district, which Israel won in 2012 after redistricting, spans from Whitestone to Smithtown.
Lally, a Huntington resident, worked for former President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign as the National Chairman of Irish Americans and worked as a floor manager during the Florida recount vote.
He was also the vice chairman of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Arizona) New York State campaign during McCain’s run for president in 2008.
“I’ve been civically engaged my whole adult life,” Lally said.
Lally, who works as an attorney for Lally & Misir law firm in Mineola, is also the co-owner of Newswire Publications, which publishes Homeland Security Newswire, a daily publication that focuses on national security issues.
Labate said his previous race against Israel will be helpful in this campaign.
“We’re taking all those lessons learned and applying it to 2014,” Labate said.
Labate, a member of the U.S. military who has served three tours, said he is looking to serve his country “in different ways as a member of Congress.”
“The younger generations deserve the same blessings that we had,” he said.
Labate said he occasionally travels to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. as a member of the Army’s Crisis Action Team and also works as a financial advisor.
“It’s a career I feel people genuinely appreciate,” Labate said of his work as a financial advisor.
In separate interviews with Blank Slate Media, both Lally and Labate expressed similar political views on issues of taxes and their desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“I’ve got a comprehensive tax reduction proposal to lower the federal tax rate from 40 percent to 28 percent,” Lally said.
“High taxes is one of the reasons that why Long Island is viewed as a hostile environment,” Labate said. “Right now, people are leaving Long Island in droves and that doesn’t bode well for our workforce.”
Labate said he would lower the tax rate to attract young adults to work and live in Long Island. But to do that, Labate said, he would have to first cut government regulations, such as Obamacare.
“The way you do that is by letting Americans be Americans, not through government regulations,” he said.
Both candidates also said that they believed Israel was spending more time as the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee than he was representing his district.
“Steve Israel’s job is to scheme and strategize as chair of the DCCC,” Lally said.
“[Israel’s] main focus hasn’t been the district. It’s been to elect other Democratic congressmen across the country,” Labate said of Israel.
Isaac Goldberg, campaign manager for Israel, said on Tuesday he disagreed with Lally and Labate’s assessment of the congressman.
“Congressman Steve Israel was in Great Neck yesterday,” Goldberg said. “Steve Israel has and always will put New York’s middle-class families first.”
Where the two disagreed was who they thought would be the best Republican candidate to unseat Israel.
“I am the strongest candidate to defeat Steve Israel,” Lally said.
Labate disagreed, saying that Lally was “unelectable against Steve Israel.”
“The reality is that he’s unelectable,” Labate said.
Labate said that Israel would have a “field day” with advertisements targeting Lally for being fined $280,000 by the Federal Elections Commission for accepting illegal campaign contributions. Labate also said Israel would target Lally’s past of defending “corrupt” Republican politicians in court.
“Israel would have a TV commercial on every 10 minutes,” Labate said. “His past is just so target rich.”
Lally did not directly respond to Labate’s claim but instead repeated that “the only person who can defeat Steve Israel is me.”
Lally then accused Labate of having worked for and being friends with Israel.
“I think Mr. Labate is being disingenuous,” Lally said.
Lally, in a May 20 press release,said that Labate worked as an Israel “staffer” for six years, working on a commission that interviewed high school students seeking admission to military academies.
“I have to question his integrity and his honesty in running against a guy who’s his former boss,” Lally said.
Labate responded by saying his spot on the commission was a voluntary position and that Lally was “lying.”
“He has a serious problem with lying,” Labate said. “He lied about the Mangano endorsement and he’s lying right now saying that I worked for Steve Israel.”
Lally’s campaign sent out an e-mail last month saying that Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano had endorsed him for the congressional race.
A spokesman for Mangano told Newsday two weeks ago that the county executive did not endorse Lally and that he did not plan to release an endorsement for Lally or Labate.
“More than ever before, America needs principled, conservative patriots serving in our government – especially in Washington,” Mangano said according to the e-mail.
Labate filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission on May 29 over the endorsement claim.
Lally called the complaint a “misrepresentation of campaign law.”
Labate said he wanted Lally to “prove” that he worked for Israel.
“Show me a pay stub,” Labate said.
Tom Hirth, a spokesman for Lally, responded to Labate’s claim that Lally was “lying” by e-mailing a video clip of Labate explaining his work with the commission.