Democrat Christine Pellegrino enters the final stretch before the May 23 special election in the 9th Assembly District with a money advantage over Conservative Thomas Gargiulo as Pellegrino and liberal allies attempt to pull an upset in the heavily Republican district.
Campaign finance reports filed Monday show Pellegrino, a teacher from West Islip, raised $31,000 over the past 12 days, spent $10,322 and had $40,000 cash in hand. County Executive Steve Bellone’s campaign committee contributed $4,400.
Gargiulo, a retired special education teacher who works part-time at a Babylon Town youth center, raised $15,000 and spent $13,000. His campaign had a closing balance of $9,200.
Top contributors included Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Northport), who gave $1,000, and the Islip Town Conservative Committee, $1,000.
Pellegrino’s report shows that a New York State United Teachers-backed independent expenditure group, Teachers for Christine, paid Red Horse Strategies $29,000 for campaign mailers. A union spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The 9th District straddles the Nassau-Suffolk line. The winner of the special election will fill the vacancy left by Republican Joseph Saladino, now Oyster Bay Town supervisor.
While a Democrat has never held the seat, activists who have rallied against President Donald Trump’s presidency and established progressive groups see the low-turnout election as a chance for an upset.
“It confirms that this is a race people are excited about and interested in,” Pellegrino said.
Gargiulo said, “I’m proud of the grass roots, local campaign that we’re running. Voters are energized and excited to support my candidacy.”
Gargiulo, a Babylon Village resident who also has the Republican line, is vying to be the first Conservative Party member elected to the Assembly from Long Island.