Republican candidates for the 1st District Congressional primary, top from...

Republican candidates for the 1st District Congressional primary, top from left: Michelle Bond, Anthony Figliola and Nicholas LaLota. Republican candidates for 2nd District Congressional primary, bottom from left: Robert Cornicelli, incumbent Andrew Garbarino and Mike Rakebrandt.

Credit: James Escher

ALBANY — Republican primaries in two congressional districts on eastern Long Island feature party-endorsed candidates being challenged by candidates who say they are more closely aligned with former President Donald Trump.

The Aug. 23 primaries will be a test of whether Long Island GOP leaders will be able to withstand those challenges or whether the challengers will see the kind of success similar candidates have had in primaries in other states.

In the 1st Congressional District in Suffolk County, three candidates are vying for the seat being vacated by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is running for governor. The party designee is Nicholas LaLota, 43, who is chief of staff of the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. He faces Michelle Bond, 46, a lawyer and the CEO of the Association for Digital Markets, which represents cryptocurrency trade organizations, who is supported by the Long Island Loud Majority, a pro-Trump organization listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as among “extreme anti-government groups.” Anthony Figliola, 42, an Albany lobbyist, is the third candidate in the race.

The 2nd Congressional District is represented by first-term Rep. Garbarino, 37, of Bayport. He is being challenged by Robert Cornicelli, 54, of Smithtown, a supervisor in the Oyster Bay public works department; and Mike Rakebrandt, 49, of Holbrook, who said he retired as a New York City police detective this month to focus on the race.

All the Republican candidates share the same basic platform of support for police, combating inflation, lowering taxes and preserving rights such as private gun ownership while opposing abortion rights. And they are critical of Democrats who control the White House and Congress.

But the insurgents contend the incumbent and establishment Republican candidates are not doing enough to stop the Democrat initiatives such as President Joe Biden's $2.1 trillion infrastructure measure and restoring Trump policies such as building a wall along the Mexico border to fight illegal immigration.

For example, Rakebrandt said, "From his vote to not oppose the certification of the 2020 presidential election ... to his support of the partisan witch hunt that is the January 6 Commission ... [Garbarino's] continued defense of his voting record shows just how tone-deaf and out-of-step he is with his constituents and the party as a whole."

But Suffolk County Republican Committee chairman Jesse Garcia dismissed the primary challenges as a "desperate attempt by candidates who are nowhere in the polls and nowhere in the minds of voters to drum up attention … trying to gain traction.”

Garcia said the party-backed candidates support GOP principles and Trump, and have the experience and talents to win the offices in November.

“This year, it’s a restoration of common-sense government,” Garcia told Newsday. “It’s a platform of fighting inflation, reducing gas prices and all expenses for hardworking families; supporting our armed forces and military to make sure we are strong abroad so we can be safe at home; and of reinstating the voice of parents in local schools."

Although all the candidates share the same overall GOP platform, they each prioritize some issues differently.

LaLota wants to require voters to present identification to vote and limit the use of absentee ballots to avoid election fraud. He also promises to fight for lower medication costs for older Americans in the Medicare health care system.

In protecting law enforcement, LaLota said he would make police a protected class in law that would add years to sentences for anyone who assaulted police. He would also seek to have executive orders from presidents — such as Biden’s mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic — sunset unless approved by Congress.

“Lee Zeldin’s successor must respect Americans’ freedoms, understand the impact of national security decisions and have the courage to slash federal spending that is causing inflation — the hidden tax,” said LaLota, who has tweeted about his strong and early support of Trump.

Bond said her goals are to finish building the wall on the Mexican border that Trump promised in his first term, while opposing amnesty for immigrants who entered the United States illegally. She would also fight the effort by some Democrats to take administration of elections away from the states. She said “career politicians” like LaLota have blocked conservative measures and said Washington needs more business leaders like herself to curb spending.

"Just compare America today to America a few years ago," Bond said. "By almost any measure, we were better off under President Trump: gas prices, inflation, energy policy, economic growth, America’s standing in the world — the list goes on."

Figliola’s emphasis includes a greater role for parents in determining school curricula, such as in opposing any teaching similar to critical race theory, which teachers about systemic racism in America, and mask mandates. He also seeks to lower taxes while securing more federal aid for Long Island to build more municipal sewers to protect drinking water.

His theme is “families first” and said Long Islanders face a crisis of high costs that is driving workers and their children away. “I have extensively worked in our state Capitol, representing the interests of small business, education, law enforcement and protecting the rights of the unborn,” he said.

Garbarino did not respond to requests for comment for this article. But he said in the past that he is a conservative who will fight against the "liberal Biden agenda," seeks to lower taxes, provide "real border security," support police and "with your help we will fire [Democratic House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi."

He voted for Biden’s $2.1 trillion infrastructure bill in 2021 that brought millions of dollars funding to Long Island despite opposition by most Republicans. He supports expanding all energy sources to make the United States independent of foreign energy suppliers and would fight global warming by “reducing emissions, not energy choices.” He also wants to complete a wall at the Mexican border.

Garbarino has defended his position to certify the 2020 presidential election result, saying he "upheld my Constitutional duty." But he voted against impeaching Trump.

“Congressman Garbarino has been a longtime advocate and fighter for the Republican principals of lower taxes, putting parents in charge of our schools, domestic security and border security,” said Garcia, the Suffolk County GOP leader. “Those are all principals held by Republicans across board, including President Trump.”

His opponents, however, say Garbarino's failure to continue to contest Trump's 2020 election loss and his voting for the Jan. 6 committee show he is not representing his constituents' views.

Rakebrandt said he is an “America first conservative and President Trump supporter.”

He said he would require “American civics” to be taught in schools and make it easier for parents to choose public or private schools for their children. He would follow Trump’s lead to withdraw from the Paris Agreement that combats climate change, including by reducing fossil fuel use; eliminate universal mail-in voting; and improve services to fight drug abuse and mental illness.

“I’ve seen where there is a breakdown in this country, the deep state or what I call the bureaucratic state, and overtaxing,” said Rakebrandt. “We really are not far from collapse.”

Cornicelli said he will prioritize better health care for veterans and the disabled; would authorize the military to “seek out and destroy terrorist networks,” eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and federal curricula to prevent "socialist indoctrination in the classroom,” and allow more “short-term natural gas production” to reduce imported oil while increasing research in wind and solar power.

"I'm sick of sitting on the sidelines watching politicians play to special interests and not give a damn about you or me," Cornicelli said in announcing his campaign.

Cornicelli said Garbarino should be a "mouthpiece" for constituents, but instead he turned "his back on President Trump, the Republican Party, and more importantly, his constituents."

Editor's note -- An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Garbarino's vote on the Jan. 6 committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. Capitol. He voted against it.

ALBANY — Republican primaries in two congressional districts on eastern Long Island feature party-endorsed candidates being challenged by candidates who say they are more closely aligned with former President Donald Trump.

The Aug. 23 primaries will be a test of whether Long Island GOP leaders will be able to withstand those challenges or whether the challengers will see the kind of success similar candidates have had in primaries in other states.

In the 1st Congressional District in Suffolk County, three candidates are vying for the seat being vacated by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is running for governor. The party designee is Nicholas LaLota, 43, who is chief of staff of the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. He faces Michelle Bond, 46, a lawyer and the CEO of the Association for Digital Markets, which represents cryptocurrency trade organizations, who is supported by the Long Island Loud Majority, a pro-Trump organization listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as among “extreme anti-government groups.” Anthony Figliola, 42, an Albany lobbyist, is the third candidate in the race.

recommended readingSee primary results from Congress, State Senate races

The 2nd Congressional District is represented by first-term Rep. Garbarino, 37, of Bayport. He is being challenged by Robert Cornicelli, 54, of Smithtown, a supervisor in the Oyster Bay public works department; and Mike Rakebrandt, 49, of Holbrook, who said he retired as a New York City police detective this month to focus on the race.

All the Republican candidates share the same basic platform of support for police, combating inflation, lowering taxes and preserving rights such as private gun ownership while opposing abortion rights. And they are critical of Democrats who control the White House and Congress.

But the insurgents contend the incumbent and establishment Republican candidates are not doing enough to stop the Democrat initiatives such as President Joe Biden's $2.1 trillion infrastructure measure and restoring Trump policies such as building a wall along the Mexico border to fight illegal immigration.

For example, Rakebrandt said, "From his vote to not oppose the certification of the 2020 presidential election ... to his support of the partisan witch hunt that is the January 6 Commission ... [Garbarino's] continued defense of his voting record shows just how tone-deaf and out-of-step he is with his constituents and the party as a whole."

But Suffolk County Republican Committee chairman Jesse Garcia dismissed the primary challenges as a "desperate attempt by candidates who are nowhere in the polls and nowhere in the minds of voters to drum up attention … trying to gain traction.”

Garcia said the party-backed candidates support GOP principles and Trump, and have the experience and talents to win the offices in November.

“This year, it’s a restoration of common-sense government,” Garcia told Newsday. “It’s a platform of fighting inflation, reducing gas prices and all expenses for hardworking families; supporting our armed forces and military to make sure we are strong abroad so we can be safe at home; and of reinstating the voice of parents in local schools."

Although all the candidates share the same overall GOP platform, they each prioritize some issues differently.

1st Congressional District

Republican candidates for the 1st District, from left: Michelle Bond,...

Republican candidates for the 1st District, from left: Michelle Bond, Anthony Figliola and Nicholas LaLota. Credit: James Escher

LaLota wants to require voters to present identification to vote and limit the use of absentee ballots to avoid election fraud. He also promises to fight for lower medication costs for older Americans in the Medicare health care system.

In protecting law enforcement, LaLota said he would make police a protected class in law that would add years to sentences for anyone who assaulted police. He would also seek to have executive orders from presidents — such as Biden’s mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic — sunset unless approved by Congress.

“Lee Zeldin’s successor must respect Americans’ freedoms, understand the impact of national security decisions and have the courage to slash federal spending that is causing inflation — the hidden tax,” said LaLota, who has tweeted about his strong and early support of Trump.

Click and drag to see the whole map, and zoom to find your neighborhood.

Bond said her goals are to finish building the wall on the Mexican border that Trump promised in his first term, while opposing amnesty for immigrants who entered the United States illegally. She would also fight the effort by some Democrats to take administration of elections away from the states. She said “career politicians” like LaLota have blocked conservative measures and said Washington needs more business leaders like herself to curb spending.

"Just compare America today to America a few years ago," Bond said. "By almost any measure, we were better off under President Trump: gas prices, inflation, energy policy, economic growth, America’s standing in the world — the list goes on."

Figliola’s emphasis includes a greater role for parents in determining school curricula, such as in opposing any teaching similar to critical race theory, which teachers about systemic racism in America, and mask mandates. He also seeks to lower taxes while securing more federal aid for Long Island to build more municipal sewers to protect drinking water.

His theme is “families first” and said Long Islanders face a crisis of high costs that is driving workers and their children away. “I have extensively worked in our state Capitol, representing the interests of small business, education, law enforcement and protecting the rights of the unborn,” he said.

2nd Congressional District

Republican candidates for the 2nd District, from left: Robert Cornicelli,...

Republican candidates for the 2nd District, from left: Robert Cornicelli, incumbent Andrew Garbarino and Mike Rakebrandt.

Credit: James Escher

Garbarino did not respond to requests for comment for this article. But he said in the past that he is a conservative who will fight against the "liberal Biden agenda," seeks to lower taxes, provide "real border security," support police and "with your help we will fire [Democratic House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi."

He voted for Biden’s $2.1 trillion infrastructure bill in 2021 that brought millions of dollars funding to Long Island despite opposition by most Republicans. He supports expanding all energy sources to make the United States independent of foreign energy suppliers and would fight global warming by “reducing emissions, not energy choices.” He also wants to complete a wall at the Mexican border.

Click and drag to see the whole map, and zoom to find your neighborhood.

Garbarino has defended his position to certify the 2020 presidential election result, saying he "upheld my Constitutional duty." But he voted against impeaching Trump.

“Congressman Garbarino has been a longtime advocate and fighter for the Republican principals of lower taxes, putting parents in charge of our schools, domestic security and border security,” said Garcia, the Suffolk County GOP leader. “Those are all principals held by Republicans across board, including President Trump.”

His opponents, however, say Garbarino's failure to continue to contest Trump's 2020 election loss and his voting for the Jan. 6 committee show he is not representing his constituents' views.

Rakebrandt said he is an “America first conservative and President Trump supporter.”

He said he would require “American civics” to be taught in schools and make it easier for parents to choose public or private schools for their children. He would follow Trump’s lead to withdraw from the Paris Agreement that combats climate change, including by reducing fossil fuel use; eliminate universal mail-in voting; and improve services to fight drug abuse and mental illness.

“I’ve seen where there is a breakdown in this country, the deep state or what I call the bureaucratic state, and overtaxing,” said Rakebrandt. “We really are not far from collapse.”

Cornicelli said he will prioritize better health care for veterans and the disabled; would authorize the military to “seek out and destroy terrorist networks,” eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and federal curricula to prevent "socialist indoctrination in the classroom,” and allow more “short-term natural gas production” to reduce imported oil while increasing research in wind and solar power.

"I'm sick of sitting on the sidelines watching politicians play to special interests and not give a damn about you or me," Cornicelli said in announcing his campaign.

Cornicelli said Garbarino should be a "mouthpiece" for constituents, but instead he turned "his back on President Trump, the Republican Party, and more importantly, his constituents."

Editor's note -- An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Garbarino's vote on the Jan. 6 committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. Capitol. He voted against it.

1st Congressional District

  • Nicholas LaLota, 43, of Amityville, is the chief of staff to Republican presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. He had been Republican commissioner for the Suffolk County Board of Elections and served in several positions in local government. He's a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and has a law degree and master’s degree of business administration from Hofstra University.
  • Michelle Bond, 46, grew up on Long Island and attended Miller Place High School. She is CEO of the Association for Digital Asset Markets, a Washington, D.C.-based cryptocurrency trade group. She has worked in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. She graduated from Baruch College and the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law.
  • Anthony Figliola, 42, of East Setauket is an Albany lobbyist who has also worked in public relations. He was an economic development supervisor for the Town of Brookhaven. He has a master’s degree in public policy and bachelor’s degree in political science from the state University at Stony Brook.


2nd Congressional District

  • Andrew Garbarino, 37, of Bayport, is in his first term in Congress. He served in the state Assembly from 2013 to 2020. He is a lawyer and graduated from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and received his law degree from Hofstra University.
  • Robert Cornicelli, 54, of Smithtown, is a supervisor with the Oyster Bay sanitation department. He is a retired captain in the Navy and National Guard. He graduated from Nassau County Community College and C.W. Post University.
  • Mike Rakebrandt, 49, of Holbrook, is a former New York City police detective who served in the Navy aboard submarines and as a hospital corpsman in the Middle East. He joined the NYPD in 2007 and was promoted to detective in 2013. He retired from the department in July.