Former CNN analyst John Avlon, left, jumped ahead of former...

Former CNN analyst John Avlon, left, jumped ahead of former professor Nancy Goroff with a $1.1 million haul in the money race for the Democratic nomination to face Republican Rep. Nick LaLota in the 1st Congressional District, new federal campaign finance filings show. Credit:

WASHINGTON — Former CNN analyst John Avlon jumped ahead of former professor Nancy Goroff with a $1.1 million haul in the money race for the Democratic nomination to face Republican Rep. Nick LaLota in the 1st Congressional District, new federal campaign finance filings show.

Meanwhile, in the much-watched 4th Congressional District race, Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) reported about $1.3 million in cash on hand for a possible rematch with Democrat Laura Gillen, a former Hempstead Town supervisor who reported $879,583 in the bank.

And newly elected Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) reported $1.1 million in cash as he runs to keep his seat in the 3rd District. Four Republican candidates have just begun raising funds in the race for their party’s nomination.

The figures reported Monday to the Federal Election Commission for the first quarter of the year show the early stirrings of the June 25 primary and the Nov. 5 general election.

All four of Long Island’s congressional districts appear headed for primaries: Democrats will face off in the 1st and 4th districts and Republicans in the 2nd and 3rd districts.

The new reports show LaLota, D’Esposito, Suozzi and 2nd District Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) lead their challengers in fundraising. And U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has a significant lead in campaign funds in her bid for a third full term.

Incumbent edge

“The first quarter numbers for incumbents are all pretty strong,” said Steve Israel, a former Democratic Long Island congressman who now owns a bookstore.

“It’s critical to get a good jump-start now, because national donors tend to divert their contributions to nationally competitive races as the election draws near,” Israel told Newsday. “Still, New York and Long Island will feature marquee races in 2024, so I expect the numbers will grow considerably between now and October.”

Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said: “At this point in Long Island’s recent political history, money means more to the Democrats than Republicans.”

Republicans have stronger organizations to get out the vote and can make up for or supplement cash they may lack for airtime or paying campaign workers, Levy told Newsday.

“First quarter funding, while it may not have much of a bearing on what voters get inundated with down the home stretch in September and October, it does serve as a magnet to attract particularly outside funding or deep pocketed local supporters,” Levy said.

Fundraising rundown

In the Senate race, Gillibrand holds a decided advantage: nearly $10 million in cash. The Republican-endorsed candidate, Michael Sapraicone of Glen Head, a retired NYPD detective and former owner of a security firm, reported nearly $300,000 in the bank.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Garbarino reported raising nearly $520,000 in the first quarter and has $1.7 million in cash. He faces an intraparty challenge by Shannon Stephens of Bayport, who said she raised $2,665.

Democrat Rob Lubin of Amityville, a businessman, reported raising $120,295 and has $308,082 in the bank in his bid to unseat Garbarino.

In the 3rd District, Nassau County Republicans endorsed Michael LiPetri of Farmingdale, a former state assemblyman, to run against Suozzi, who won a special election in February. LiPetri reported about $5,363 in his campaign fund. “His campaign has just begun,” the Nassau County Republican Committee said in a statement.

In the 4th district, Gillen, who lost in 2022 to D’Esposito by 3 percentage points, raised twice as much as he did in the first quarter — $560,438 to $261,610. She faces a primary against real estate agent Gian Jones, who reported he raised $10,783 and has $9,976 in cash.

In the 1st district, Avlon’s entrance into the race for the Democratic nomination has drawn national interest — and big bucks for his campaign. About 170 of his donors gave $6,600 each, maxing out their contributions for the primary and general election.

Contributors to Avlon, of Sag Harbor, include well-known figures such as former Judge J. Michael Luttig, a conservative and never-Trumper; broadcast icons Maury Povich and Connie Chung; and billionaires such as Eric Schmidt, former president of Google.

Avlon collected $1.1 million. Goroff, a former Stony Brook University professor, raised about $323,439 with $625,490 in the bank.

“The sums raised by Avlon and Gillen are notable, even if they are behind [LaLota], in showing that Democrats believe they can win back the seat,” Levy said.

“Since Democrats and outside analysts don’t consider the 1st district an easy get, even if competitive, Avlon’s seven-figure totals suggest his celebrity may be in play,” Levy said. But Avlon and Goroff will have to spend a lot of their money on a primary, Levy said, “that LaLota has be to be thrilled about.”


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