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Conservative Tom Gargiulo suspends campaign for Suffolk legislative seat

Tom Gargiulo has suspended his campaign for the

Tom Gargiulo has suspended his campaign for the Suffolk County Legislature's 14th District seat. Credit: Ed Betz

A Conservative Party candidate for the Suffolk County Legislature who lost his own party's ballot in last month's primary election has suspended his campaign, even though his name will stay on the Democratic ballot line in November.

Tom Gargiulo was designated as candidate for the 14th District as part of a Democratic-Conservative cross-endorsement deal to take on incumbent GOP Legis. Kevin McCaffrey, who had the minor party line in the past. McCaffrey waged a Conservative write-in campaign, winning the June 25 contest 186-146.

Gargiulo’s decision to suspend his campaign came to light after Rich Schaffer, the Suffolk County Democractic chairman, sent an email to party members last week announcing the cancellation of a $150-a-head Gargiulo fundraiser set for July 11 in Lindenhurst.

Schaffer said Gargiulo re-evaluated his campaign after the primary loss diminished his chances of winning on just the Democratic line. 

Gargiulo was upset about the harshness of the political attacks during the primary especially on the issue of abortion, which he opposes because of his Catholic faith.

“It really hurt, and it was hard for me,” said Gargiulo, a retired teacher who is active in church work. He said he plans to send a letter to Conservative voters to make clear his stand.

McCaffrey said he has “no regrets” about his campaign, adding that Gargiulo — by accepting the Democratic ballot line — “had to expect some of the splatter” from the party’s liberal stands on such issues as late-term abortion and voting rights for felons.     

“I never really wanted to campaign against Tom,” said McCaffrey, who has known Gargiulo for 30 years. “I’m just glad it came to this happy ending.”

He also said the move lets Democrats redirect resources to other tight races like the 8th District, where Republican aide Anthony Piccirillo also won his write-in bid against incumbent Legis. William Lindsay III (D-Oakdale).

Although he faces only token opposition, McCaffrey said he will keep knocking on doors.

“I may not out wear out another pair of shoes," he said, "but I’ll still be at the doors because that’s where you hear unfiltered what's on the minds of regular people.”

Gargiulo noted he also still has the Independence Party ballot line and he expects friends to vote for him.

“You never know,” he said.

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