Michelle Bond and Robert Cornicelli lost their congressional primary races.

Michelle Bond and Robert Cornicelli lost their congressional primary races. Credit: AP/ Randy Monceaux, James Escher

When first-time GOP congressional candidate Michelle Bond ran ads promoting an extremely contrived claim — that her primary rival Nick LaLota supported defunding the police — it marked just one of many flimsy campaign attacks to arise in major-party races all over the state.

On Tuesday, LaLota, running in the 1st Congressional District with the support of the party’s county organization, won the nomination anyway with 47% against Bond’s 28% and Anthony Figliola’s 25%.

Eight years ago, as an Amityville trustee, LaLota supported, as a budgeting measure, capping base pay for officers whose total earnings exceeded $150,000 the prior year.  But to the uninvolved, Bond's ad might have given viewers the absurd notion that LaLota — chief of staff to their party’s majority in the Suffolk County Legislature — somehow harbors a secret utopian anarchist agenda.

Still, in a statement the morning after the primary vote tally, LaLota's Democratic opponent for November, Legis. Bridget Fleming, tossed "trying to defund the police" into a list of areas where she attacks her opponent as pursuing his "own dangerous agenda." 

It’s hard to tease out which blurts of the silly season persuade anyone of anything. But it does seem that a number of candidates who issued rhetorical clunkers in an effort to catch up to front-runners generally went unrewarded this week at the polls.

On July 5, State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, campaigning from the left in her bid to unseat Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, tweeted this gem on supporting younger Democrats like herself: “At the risk of sounding ageist, it’s still important to ask: when a majority of Congress is past child-bearing age, how fierce can we expect their fight to be?”

Whatever impression this made on older voters, Biaggi ended up losing CD17 by a more than two-to-one margin.

As a Donald Trump loyalist, CD2 challenger Robert Cornicelli tried to paint Republican Rep. Andrew Garbarino as a left-leaning turncoat — for voting to routinely certify the 2020 election results, and supporting a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Garbarino got about 55% to Cornicelli’s 36%, with 9% for Mike Rakebrandt.

In the entirely different category of throwing deranged stink bombs, Republican Carl Paladino still reigns as champion.

During his western New York run for Congress, Paladino said Attorney General Merrick Garland "probably should be executed" but then said he was being facetious. Last year he called Hitler "the kind of leader we need" but then apologized. Paladino shared social media posts suggesting a racist massacre in Buffalo was a "false flag" operation.

He lost the CD23 primary Tuesday to GOP state chairman Nick Langworthy, but not hugely. Paladino drew 48% to Langworthy's 52%. 

In Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney, one of two veteran Democratic incumbents drawn into a single new CD12, tried to gain ground against her sudden crosstown rival, Rep. Jerry Nadler, by warning against sending "a man to do a woman's job." She'd said she was up against an "old boy network" when Sen. Chuck Schumer endorsed him.

The rhetoric clearly didn't work. The unofficial primary-night total was 55% for Nadler, 24% for Maloney, and 19% for Suraj Patel.

Not that these results will deter future exaggerated claims. Sometimes it's as if we live in the electoral era of "just say anything."  More than a few candidates on and off Long Island can be expected to keep throwing stuff at the wall just to see what sticks. 

Columnist Dan Janison's opinions are his own.