Suffolk Conservatives are circulating nominating petitions for Tom Gargiulo, seen...

Suffolk Conservatives are circulating nominating petitions for Tom Gargiulo, seen April 8, 2017. Supporters hope he will mount a successful challenge against Republican Legis. Kevin McCaffrey. Credit: Ed Betz

Suffolk Conservatives are circulating petitions for Tom Gargiulo, who ran unsuccessfully for state Assembly two years ago, to challenge Republican Suffolk Legis. Kevin McCaffrey. McCaffrey has had the minor party line nine times as a county lawmaker and Lindenhurst Village trustee.

McCaffrey said he was “surprised and disappointed” that Gargiulo might run against him.

“I’ve known Tom a long time; I know his family,” McCaffrey said. “But in the business of politics, nothing shocks me.”

Gargiulo, a Conservative, ran in a special election for the Assembly in 2017 with Republican and Independence Party support. But he lost in an upset to teacher Christine Pellegrino in the heavily Republican district in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s election.

At the time, Gargiulo, part-time worker at a Babylon recreation center, boasted he had the informal backing of Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer. Schaffer, who was looking to get the Conservative ballot line for the party’s district attorney candidate, remained neutral in the Assembly race.

Democrats are circulating petitions for longtime party activist Bridget Middleton, 78, of Babylon, for the race for McCaffrey's legislative seat. But Democrats later could substitute another candidate should Middleton decline the nomination after petitions are filed early next month. Schaffer declined to comment on any possible change in candidates.

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