U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice speaks during a news conference in Roosevelt...

U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice speaks during a news conference in Roosevelt on Sept. 8, 2020. Credit: Barry Sloan

Four candidates are vying to succeed Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) in a crowded Democratic primary featuring two sitting elected officials, a former town supervisor and a retired physician who is running for local elected office for the first time. 

The seat opened up in February when Rice announced she would retire at the end of the year after four terms.

The primary developed after Democratic Party leaders failed to convince potential candidates such as former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and county Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the minority leader, to run.

Open congressional seats are relatively rare on Long Island, but this year there are three — and the 4th District race has attracted candidates from across Nassau, including two who have raised more than $400,000 each, according to federal campaign filings.

The 4th District candidates in the Aug. 23 primary are:

  • Former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, an attorney who in 2017 became the first Democrat elected supervisor in the town in more than a century.
  • Keith Corbett, the mayor of Malverne Village and an attorney for the state and county Democratic committees.
  • Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages of Lawrence, an attorney and former Bronx prosecutor. 
  • Muzibul Huq, who worked as a physician in Bangladesh before immigrating with his family to the United States. 
Democratic candidates for the 4th District, from left: Keith Corbett,...

Democratic candidates for the 4th District, from left: Keith Corbett, Laura Gillen, Dr. Muzibul Huq and Carrié Solages. Credit: James Escher

The winner will face Republican Anthony D'Esposito, 40, a Hempstead Town Board member, volunteer firefighter and retired New York City police detective, in the general election on Nov. 8.

The 4th District encompasses the southwestern region of Nassau County.

It stretches west as far as Inwood, and east as far as Wantagh and Seaford. It extends north to Garden City and Uniondale, and south to Long Beach, Lido Beach and Atlantic Beach.

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Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 228,462 to 154,669, providing a 43% to 29% enrollment advantage for Democrats.

Gillen, 53, leads the Democrats' money race, with $385,241 in her coffers as of June 30. So far, she has raised $553,724 for the primary, according to her June 30 report to the Federal Election Commission.

Corbett had $310,838 on hand as of June 30, and had collected a total of $400,704, including $160,000 he loaned his campaign, FEC reports show.

Solages had $82,565 on hand and had received a total of $143,385 as of June 30.

According to Huq's June 30 report, he had $371 on hand and had collected $26,085, including $14,100 he loaned his campaign.

While Jay Jacobs, state and Nassau County Democratic Party chairman, is not making an endorsement in the race, Gillen is touting endorsements from Rice and Rice's predecessor, former Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola).

Gillen has made abortion rights a focus of her campaign.

“We’re seeing a call to arms for women, and for people who care about women, and for people who care about girls, that we see our autonomy over our bodies and our health care decisions being taken away," Gillen told Newsday.

"I’m the only person in this race who is directly impacted by that decision,” she said. “It’s all directly on the line for me, … and I think I have a voice that needs to be heard.”

Gillen won election as Hempstead Town supervisor in 2017, but lost reelection in 2019 to Republican Donald Clavin.

Gillen cites her record of improving the town's contracting process, replacing numerous typewriters with computers and dedicating millions of dollars to road repairs. 

She sued members of the Town Board to overturn 197 appointments, transfers and raises the board had approved before she took office.

The lawsuit also challenged a protection the board enacted to prevent layoffs, even during a fiscal crisis.

A judge issued a split ruling in 2019, ordering annulment of the no-layoff clause, but deciding the personnel transfers were legal.

Corbett, 43, said if elected to Congress he would advocate for abortion rights, and work to secure funding to boost seizures of illegal guns. 

Corbett is a partner with the Harris Beach law firm in Uniondale.

He also serves as law chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee and oversees selection of local judicial candidates for the party.

Corbett told Newsday he has represented every Democratic elected official in Nassau at one time or another.

"I've been there for them … every time," he said.

Corbett was elected Malverne mayor in 2019 after serving as deputy mayor.

As he campaigns for Congress, Corbett stresses that he has gotten village roads repaved and kept village finances steady during the coronavirus pandemic.

But he drew criticism from community activists for his handling of a proposal to rename Lindner Place, a village street named for Paul Lindner, a local Ku Klux Klan leader in the 1920s.

Racial justice advocates, including some Malverne Union Free School District students, had pressed Corbett since 2020 to rename the street.

Corbett demurred, saying he needed time to study the issue.

"I'd love to know who he was as a person, what he did, good, bad or indifferent, and let's then make an action on it, but I don't want to jump just because you have a herd mentality telling you one thing," he told WCBS in January.

The groups said evidence of Lindner's Klan membership was plentiful, and accused Corbett of slow-walking the renaming process.

Corbett joined others on the village board in a unanimous vote March 31 to rename the street after he said his research process had concluded.

Asked about criticism of his handling of the issue, Corbett said: "I think people out there who know me, know I’m about results. I think people look at my record, they know you can’t get more Democratic than me.”

Solages, 43, said he was inspired to run in the 4th District after several Democratic incumbents, including former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, were defeated last year.

“We have to motivate the base, we have to give them a reason to come out to vote,” Solages told Newsday.

“I think Democratic voters in Nassau County are tired of the same old cookie cutter type of candidate … ," Solages said. "They want something different, they want someone who’s energetic, who’s going to get out there, who can speak to multiple communities, who represented multiple communities and is strong on the core issues.”

Solages, an attorney, said if elected to Congress he would work to reduce inflation and make college more affordable.

During the congressional campaign Solages has touted his record as a county legislator in improving parks and bringing police activity league programs to communities in his legislative district.

Solages voted against the county's police reform package, which passed in 2021.

The plan, ordered by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody, includes a body camera program to record interactions between police and residents.

Solages said the plan failed to substantially boost outside oversight of police conduct.

In 2018, Solages resolved a domestic violence case involving his arrest for allegedly assaulting his son's mother and endangering her teenage daughter, by admitting to reduced charges of disorderly conduct.

Solages was required to complete a 26-week batterer intervention program and undergo drug testing under a plea deal in which two misdemeanor charges were reduced to noncriminal violations.

He told Newsday last week: “God has forgiven me, the community has forgiven me."

Huq, 71, of Elmont, said he wanted to promote job creation, advocate for minority residents in his community and help heal “religious tension across the world.”

A first-time local candidate, Huq said his health care background makes him best suited to represent the 4th Congressional District.

He said he and his wife, an obstetrician-gynecologist, in 1989 helped found the Shaheen Clinic, a hospital with a focus on women's health in Bangladesh.

He said he helped found the former Feni Medical College and Hospital, also in Bangladesh, in 1992.

Huq, his wife and three sons immigrated to the United States in 2005, eventually settling in Sunnyside, Queens. The family moved to Elmont in 2014.

In the United States, Huq taught in medical assistant training programs, and also became certified as a cardiac sonographer.

“They [are] all three attorneys," Huq said of the other Democratic primary candidates.

"In a crisis of the pandemic, what we are facing right now, you are definitely more suitable if you have a medical background,” he told Newsday.

4th CD Democratic primary candidates

Laura Gillen, 53, of Rockville Centre, is an attorney who served as Hempstead Town supervisor from 2018 to 2020. She holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a law degree from NYU School of Law.

Keith Corbett, 43, is the mayor of Malverne Village, and a partner with the law firm of Harris Beach. He serves as law chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee and counsel to the state Democratic Committee. He holds an undergraduate degree from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, and a law degree from New York Law School.

Carrié Solages, 43, of Lawrence, is an attorney who serves as a Nassau County legislator. He also is a former Bronx assistant district attorney. He holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from Boston College Law School.

Muzibul Huq, 71, of Elmont, is a retired physician and educator. Huq holds degrees from Comilla Victoria Government College and Dhaka Medical College, both in Bangladesh. He and his family immigrated to the United States in from Bangladesh in 2005. 

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