Incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and her presumptive Republican challenger for...

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and her presumptive Republican challenger for the seat, Michael Sapraicone, potentially face challenges in their June primaries. Credit: Rick Kopstein; Barry Sloan

One Democrat is seeking to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in the state's June 25 primary, while three Republicans filed to take on the GOP's pick for the seat, the state board of elections said Tuesday.

Gillibrand has served since 2009 and is running for a third full term. To qualify for a Senate primary, candidates must submit 15,000 signatures from enrolled party voters. Of that total, 100 must come from voters in 13 of the state's 26 congressional districts. Petitioning ran from Feb. 29 until April 4.

The New York State Democratic Committee selected Gillibrand as its nominee during the party's convention in February. Also that month, the state Republican committee picked Michael Sapraicone, of Glen Head, a security firm founder and former NYPD detective.

Party surrogates have filed petition objections to the prospective challengers. State election commissioners will review signatures and decide on their validity in the coming weeks. The board will certify the state's primary ballot after meeting on May 1, said Kathleen McGrath, a spokeswoman for the elections board.

On the Democratic side, Khaled Salem has filed petitions to challenge Gillibrand, according to the state board of elections. Salem's website says he is a human rights activist who was born in Egypt and immigrated to the United States from Kuwait in 1992. 

On the Republican side, three candidates filed to challenge Sapraicone: David Bellon, Cara Castronuova and Josh Eisen.

Bellon is a Queens-based attorney, according to his campaign's website. Castronuova, of Elmont, is a former Golden Gloves boxing champion who appeared as a celebrity fitness trainer on NBC's “The Biggest Loser” reality show. She ran unsuccessfully for the State Assembly in 2022. Eisen is a business owner who serves as co-chairman of the George Pataki Foundation. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2020. 

According to the state board of elections, objections have been filed against Bellon, Castronuova, Eisen and Salem.

Tony Nunziato, the Queens Republican chairman, is among the objectors to Castronuova's petitions.

Representatives for Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Cairo and State GOP chairman Ed Cox did not respond to requests for comment about the filings.

Jay Jacobs, chairman of the state and Nassau Democratic Party, said in an interview that Gillibrand “is the nominee of the party.” 

“It's clear that there was definitely something worth looking at” with regard to Salem's petitions, Jacobs said. “Whether or not it results in the candidate being knocked off the ballot remains to be seen.”

In a statement, Mike Deery, a spokesman for the Nassau County Republican Committee, said: “Mike Sapraicone is the designated and endorsed candidate of the New York State Republican Committee … He was the choice of over 80 percent of the Republican County Committees, including the Nassau and Suffolk GOP organizations.”

Correction: Tony Nunziato is the Queens Republican chairman. His name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.

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