Two feuding challengers will compete against an incumbent two-term congressman next Tuesday for the Democratic nomination to New York’s 3rd Congressional District.
The district includes Manhasset, Roslyn, Port Washington, Great Neck and Floral Park, among other areas, and stretches from Whitestone, Queens to Kings Park in Suffolk County.
Michael Weinstock of Great Neck and Melanie D’Arrigo of Port Washington are challenging U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) for the nomination. The winner of the primary will face Republican nominee George Santos of Queens in November.
Weinstock, a former active-duty firefighter, 9/11 first responder and sex crimes prosecutor for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, has cited education as a prominent issue in his campaign.
“I intend to make education my top priority going into Congress,” Weinstock said at a League of Women Voters of Huntington forum. “I’m going to do everything I can to make college more affordable.”
The candidate says on his website that he will support U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Bronx) Green New Deal, passage of the DREAM Act, Medicare for all, extension of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, and making “reforms” to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Weinstock also promised to be “a steadfast ally for [Israel and its] people,” and said that he will fight to “ensure that every District Attorney’s office in the nation has a Conviction Review Bureau” to avoid wrongful convictions.
Weinstock’s endorsements include feminist leader Dr. Phyllis Chesler as well as the group Demand Universal Healthcare, according to an email from the candidate.
D’Arrigo, originally of Lindenhurst, is a health care strategist and Democratic campaign volunteer who says she served as campaign manager in Democratic state Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso’s successful re-election bid in 2018 and worked on campaigns for Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte (D-Port Washington) and state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck).
In an interview with Blank Slate Media in January, D’Arrigo said that she supported the Green New Deal, increased gun control, repealing the 2017 tax cuts, Medicare for All and approving a wealth tax. She also says her campaign will not take funding from corporations or political action committees, and cites her PAID BY Act, which “forces transparency and accountability on politicians and candidates by having them disclose corporate and special interest campaign donations that are conflicts of interest,” according to her website.
At the candidate forum, D’Arrigo said that the CARES Act, a coronavirus support bill which Suozzi assisted in creating, was “wholly mishandled.”
“[The act] prioritized corporations over people,” D’Arrigo said. “What we needed to see are reoccurring stimulus payments to individuals, what we needed to see was a credit freeze, what we needed to see was not just a freeze on mortgage and rent payments but a policy that would ensure that folks could pay at the end of their loan or an arrears if they were paying rent.”
The Port resident also said she agreed with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s assertion that the state’s congressional delegation “did not fight hard enough for New York” during the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizations that have endorsed D’Arrigo include Brand New Congress, L.I. Activists, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Institute for Reproductive Health’s Action Fund, Muslims for Progress, New York Communities for Change, Moms in Office, the Long Island Network for Change and Our Progressive Future, among others.
For the two challengers, the race as of late has been marked by litigation and controversial comments.
Nearly a month before the election, Weinstock was sued by D’Arrigo and former congressional challenger Josh Sauberman in an attempt to disqualify “fraudulent” and “out-of-district” petition signatures, according to D’Arrigo. Weinstock then sought to quash the suit by invoking a state law which states it is illegal to serve legal papers to an observant Jew on the sabbath or Shabbat. The suit ended up being dismissed after an appellate court in Albany found that it had been filed one day late.
D’Arrigo’s campaign then found a Facebook post with Weinstock answering voter questions that showed he had commented, “Melanie’s little stunt that requires me to leave my house every day, during a pandemic, is a different matter altogether. The woman deliberately put me and my family at risk. If she were a man, I would consider giving her a good old-fashioned throat punch.”
The comments were condemned by both D’Arrigo and NOW, and Weinstock apologized, saying that he hoped D’Arrigo would “finally apologize for the Jewish vulgarity expressed by her legal team” during the lawsuit.
“While Ms. D’Arrigo was trying to knock me off the ballot, her lawyer told the Jerusalem Post that I am a ‘Bullsh-t Artist’ who is using my Jewish faith as a ‘stunt’ to avoid litigation,” Weinstock said in an email to Blank Slate Media.
The incumbent congressman has not weighed in on this feud.
Suozzi, the former mayor of Glen Cove and former Nassau County executive, who was elected to his first term in 2016 and re-elected in 2018, said in an interview with Blank Slate Media in May that his main priority in light of the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on Long Island was seeing that funds in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act recently passed by the House, are distributed to the states based on rate of infection. This occurred by Suozzi gathering “every Democrat and every Republican from New York and New Jersey to sign a letter to Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell” stating a need for a special fund that would be distributed in such a way. The fund, totaling $10 billion, was added to the act.
“New York hospitals got $4 billion of that money, so that by itself will address a lot of the hospitals’ money problems,” Suozzi said. “So now we’re doing the same thing with the states. We got a $49 billion fund put in the HEROES Act, so that by itself would generate $10 to $12 billion for New York. New York State would get about $22 billion overall based on population and unemployment rates, but $12 billion is just from this special fund for $49 billion that I helped to advocate for.”
Among his accomplishments, the congressman lists increasing funding for cleanup in the Long Island Sound and the Bethpage plume of toxic chemicals, as well as seeing his bill to set the state and local tax (SALT) cap at $20,000 pass in the House.
“I’ve demonstrated that I’m very hard working, I’m committed to getting things done for my district, and I get things done for my district,” Suozzi said. “I’ll always fight for New York, and I’ll always fight for all the things people care about, whether it’s better health care, a cleaner environment, gun safety, immigration reform, whatever the issue may be, they know that I’m fighting to get those things done for my constituents, for my state and for my country. I’m not just someone who’s saying, ‘I believe this,’ or ‘I believe that.’ I can do it because I’ve done it.”
Suozzi has also earned endorsements, from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Communications Workers of America, End Citizens United, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Long Island Environmental Voters, the Long Island Federation of Labor, the New York League of Conservation Voters, the New York State AFL-CIO, New York City’s District Council of Carpenters, the New York State Teachers’ Union, the Public Employees’ Federation, the Sierra Club, the Theatrical Stage Employees Union, United Auto Worker, and the United Federation of Teachers, among others.
The last day to apply for an absentee ballot for the June 23 Democratic primary is June 16, and the last day to postmark such a ballot is June 22.