West Islip attorney Richard Young filed enough signatures this week to challenge Assemb. Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa) in a Republican primary for Nassau's 9th Assembly District, according to preliminary estimates from the state board of elections.
Young needed 500 signatures to get on the Sept. 13 primary ballot and got about 1,200. Saladino received roughly 5,600 signatures on the GOP line and is also on the Conservative Party and Independence Party lines.
Young has the backing of the Brightwaters-based Conservative Society of America. Stephen Flanagan, who runs the society and is Young's campaign manager, said Saladino wasn't conservative enough.
"We just don't think he's a very conservative guy and it's an extremely conservative district," Flanagan said. "We're looking for leadership. We're looking for somebody to go up there and shake up Albany. Mr. Young is the kind of guy we want."
The insurgent Young, a former police officer who has never held elected office, has been active in anti-tax efforts and has fought against eminent domain, Flanagan said.
Saladino, who has held the office since winning a special election in 2004, said his conservative record speaks for itself.
"My votes have been anti-tax; my record of legislation has been exceptional," Saladino said. "I am the candidate of the Republican Party, of the Conservative Party, of the Independence Party because of a strong record of fiscal conservative voting."
Saladino called Young an "opportunist" who wanted to add a public salary to his policeman's pension. Flanagan shot back that Saladino was a career politician and that Young would make more money continuing in his law practice than as an assemblyman.
Political consultant Michael Dawidziak said that primaries have low turnouts so it will come down to who can motivate enough people to get to the polls.
"Anybody can be beat in a primary," Dawidziak said. But, he added, "the Nassau Republican Party does not make a habit of being embarrassed in primaries."