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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

GOP contenders emerge to challenge Rep. Steve Israel

Grant Lally, a Mineola attorney who once worked on George W. Bush’s 2000 Florida recount battle, has announced he will challenge Democratic Rep. Steve Israel in the November general election.

Lally, 52, of Lloyd Harbor, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1994 and 1996 against then-Rep. Gary Ackerman, could face a GOP primary from Stephen Labate, an Iraq War veteran who lost to Israel in 2012 and plans to run again.

Lally criticized Israel (D-Huntington) as the “right hand man” of President Barack Obama on issues such as taxes, health care and regulation.

If elected, Lally said he would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which he claims has been a “drag on the economy” and caused premiums to increase.
“I want to stand up for the people in this area,” Lally said.

A managing partner at Lally & Misir LLP in Mineola, Lally is the son of former Supreme Court Justice Ute Lally. He was a founding chairman of the Long Island chapter of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies and worked on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 GOP presidential campaign.

Labate, a financial planner from Deer Park, announced in November that he will run again in the 3rd Congressional District, which straddles Nassau and Suffolk counties. Labate lost to Israel two years ago 56 percent to 43 percent.

In November, he criticized Israel’s role as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, arguing he is “more concerned about electing candidates 3,000 miles away than with the issues that are affecting constituents here at home.”

Ian Prior, a spokesman for National Republican Congressional Committee, said the party does not endorse candidates in primaries.

“We look forward to New York's Republican voters being the ones to choose which candidate will move on to the general election and hold Steve Israel accountable for his misguided and unconditional support of the epic disaster that is Obamacare,” Prior said.

Tony Santino, spokesman for Nassau GOP Chairman Joe Mondello, said the party has not made a decision on who it will endorse in the race. Suffolk GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle said that since the district is primarily in Nassau, he would defer to Mondello.

Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer criticized both GOP candidates.

“The Republican Party bosses in D.C. were trying hard to recruit a candidate against Steve, and all they could come up with is a Tea Party extremist and Republican Party hack who paid one of the largest fines for illegal campaign contributions in history,” Schaffer said. “That’s the state of the Republican Party on Long Island.”

In 1998, Lally agreed to pay a $280,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for accepting illegal campaign donations during the 1994 election, and  falsely reporting them.

Israel enters the race with a fundraising advantage, with more than $1 million on hand. Labate has nearly $36,000 on hand and is hosting a Feb. 25 fundraiser  in Roslyn. Lally has yet to begin fundraising.


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