Tom Gargiulo, a Conservative Party member who originally had only the minor party’s line for Suffolk County Legislature, also has become the Democratic candidate in the race against GOP Legis. Kevin McCaffrey.
Gargiulo, 61, of Babylon Village, became the Democrats' candidate after veteran Democratic activist Bridget Middleton dropped out.
Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said he is backing Gargiulo because of his “deep roots” in the community and his "desire to protect our quality of life at the cheapest possible,” cost.
Gargiulo also has the Independence Party line. Two years ago, McCaffrey got 2,039 of his 9,667 votes on the Conservative and Independence lines.
McCaffrey said Gargiulo's candidacy was part of an “unholy alliance, and the Conservative Party is to blame. They are not the party of conservative values, but the party of jobs, judgeships and dirty money from developers.”
Gargiulo, a retired teacher and a basketball coach, called himself an underdog, saying he “just wants to help people” and will work as hard as he can to win. He called McCaffrey “a good man” and a friend.
The contest in the 14th District is among about a half dozen county legislature races in which Suffolk Conservatives have backed Democrats or run their own candidates.
Schaffer is attempting to keep or bolster the Democrats' 11 member majority on the 18 member body. New county GOP Chairman Jesse Garcia is seeking to wrest back control of county government from Democrats.
In 2017, Gargiulo was the Republican-Conservative candidate in a state Assembly special election, but lost in an upset to Democrat Christine Pellegrino.
In that race, Schaffer, who is also Babylon Town supervisor, remained neutral. But Gargiulo said he had Schaffer’s informal backing, angering progressives. At the time, Schaffer was negotiating with Conservatives for backing of Democratic District attorney candidate Timothy Sini.
In addition to Gargiulo, Babylon Democrats also named Conservative Jennifer Montiglio, daughter of town Conservative Chairman Tom Montiglio, as the tax receiver candidate. In the past, Democrats had backed Conservative Corinne DiSomma, who is retiring as tax receiver.