ALBANY — Republicans have selected Assemb. Anthony Palumbo to run for the Senate seat now held by retiring Sen. Ken LaValle.
Palumbo, a state legislator for seven years, will be forsaking what’s seen as a safe Republican seat in the Assembly to jump into what could be a competitive fight for a Senate district that covers the east end of Suffolk County.
Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), 49, said a seat in the Senate will give him a bigger voice in Albany and that he wants to fight “one-party rule,” a reference to Democrats’ control of the executive and legislative branches of government.
“I want to be a consistent voice for the district like Ken LaValle,” Palumbo said Tuesday, referring to the 44-year incumbent. “We don’t need the far left progressives that have taken control of the (State) Legislature … We need to flip the Senate back to Republican control.”
LaValle has announced he won’t run for reelection and will retire when his term expires Dec. 31.
Palumbo said New Yorkers’ tax burden and the state’s new bail law will be his key campaign topics.
Four candidates are vying for the Democratic nod: Laura Ahearn, a Suffolk County attorney, Valerie Cartright, a Brookhaven Town Board member, Tommy John Schiavoni, a Southampton Town Board member, and Skyler Johnson, a student at Suffolk County Community College.
A Suffolk County Democratic official said Tuesday afternoon the party wouldn’t be making an endorsement in the battle for nomination.
“We, as the committee, are encouraging our membership to support whichever candidate they please and are providing logistical support equally to all,” Matt Jennings, executive director of the county committee, wrote in an email. “We will back the candidate that the party chooses through the primary process.”
Ahearn filed a campaign statement earlier this month showing she’s raised $130,000 since jumping into the race. Schiavoni reported raising $113,000.
By contrast, Palumbo’s campaign committee reported having $4,036 in the bank as of mid-January.
The Senate district is evenly divided, with 71,101 Republicans and 69,972 Democrats as of November. There are more than 59,000 voters who aren’t enrolled in any party and about 17,000 minor-party members.
But LaValle routinely and easily won reelection in the district.
Palumbo initially was elected to the Assembly in 2013, replacing Republican Daniel Losquadro, and has typically won more than 60% of the vote in his reelection bids. A private lawyer and former assistant district attorney, he currently serves as the party’s ranking member of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Republicans controlled the Senate for all but a few years over the last five decades before being swept out of power in 2018. Democrats now hold a 40-23 advantage.