State Assemb. Michael LiPetri.

State Assemb. Michael LiPetri. Credit: James Escher

ALBANY — State Assemb. Michael LiPetri on Thursday became the latest Republican to say he will enter a primary in the contest to replace retiring Rep. Peter King — despite another party leader lining up behind Assemb. Andrew Garbarino.

LiPetri (R-South Farmingdale) made his announcement less than an hour after Nick Langworthy, state Republican chairman, said he is backing Garbarino (R-Sayville).

LiPetri referred to party leaders in his campaign announcement.

“I thank the Republican Party for their consideration during the nomination process but we are proceeding full speed ahead with this campaign," LiPetri, 29, said. "Over the coming months, I look forward to presenting my vision and earning the support of Republican voters in June."

He was referring to a likely Republican primary for the nomination, which would occur June 23. But first, LiPetri and Nancy Hemendinger, a Suffolk County health official who also is running, would have to qualify for the primary by gathering at least 1,250 valid petition signatures from enrolled party members. The qualifying period runs from Feb. 25 to April 2.

Another potential candidate, Republican Suffolk County Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota, also is considering a run.

The battle for New York's 2nd Congressional District, which covers parts of the South Shore in Nassau and Suffolk counties, has become one of the most watched for control of Congress in November since King (R-Seaford) announced last fall he wouldn't seek re-election after 14 terms in the House of Representatives.

Earlier Thursday, Langworthy gave Garbarino his stamp of approval.

“Andrew Garbarino is exactly the leader Long Island needs fighting for taxpayers in Washington,” Langworthy said in a statement to Newsday. “He has the experience, the character and the backbone to go to Washington and deliver results.”

It was the latest endorsement for Garbarino, who has been lining up party leaders' support.

This week, the Nassau and Suffolk county Republican chairmen said they were backing Garbarino, 35, who is in his eighth year as a state legislator and is the son of Islip Republican chairman William Garbarino.

That hasn't discouraged challengers.

On Wednesday, Suffolk County health official Nancy Hemendinger said she would “definitely” seek to get on the ballot for the primary for the GOP nomination.

Several Democrats have expressed interest in running, but the party apparatus is expected to back Jackie Gordon, a former Babylon Town Board member. The National Democratic Campaign Committee recently said it would give Gordon fundraising and staffing support.

 The 2nd Congressional District — about two-thirds of which is in Suffolk — is considered a swing district. The district went for President Donald Trump in 2016, but twice backed President Barack Obama.

King’s retirement shifted the district from being considered “likely Republican” in 2020, to merely “leaning Republican,” according to the Cook Political Report. 

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