NEW YORK, NY – When this past winter New York State’s four term Suffolk County incumbent Republican Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino, whose 7th District covers the majority of communities in Smithtown and small portions of the towns of Islip and Brookhaven, learned that the 14 term United States GOP Congressman Peter King would not seek reelection to his seat in the Second Congressional District, which spans through southwestern Suffolk County and minor sections of southeastern Nassau County, he knew that he had a difficult choice to make.
“Whether or not to give up my seat in the assembly and run for Congress was not an easy decision for me to make… During my 8 years in the assembly, I felt that I have accomplished a great deal on behalf of my constituents,” stated Garbarino. “I have pushed for increased funding for our local school districts, supported our brave and dedicated men and women in law enforcement, worked to protect the environment of Long Island and fought against the tax hikes proposed by the governor.”
“So, my first inclination,” he continued, “was to stay in the assembly to continue this work. However, when I became convinced that I could continue this work, as well as other important work, on a federal level, I made the decision to run for Congress.”
Still, Garbarino, 37, an attorney who has lived in Suffolk County his entire life, had to first earn the Republican nomination to have the chance to win that race. Also seeking the opportunity to replace King was Republican Assemblyman Mike LiPetri, a popular one term incumbent in Suffolk’s Assembly District 9. The contest was settled in the GOP’s June 23rd primary, when Garbarino defeated LiPetri by a 61% to 39% margin. Reflecting on that race and its aftermath, Garbarino stated, “Mike was a tough competitor and ran a hard-fought campaign… I am extremely proud and appreciative that he is now campaigning for me.”
Garbarino added that due to the COVID-19 epidemic he had to run his race against LiPetri in a less voter interactive mode than he had been accustomed to in the past.
“The covid-19 epidemic prevented me from live campaigning… In the past [assembly elections] I enjoyed and learned from the one-on-one personal contact I had with voters. So, [in the Congressional primary] I had to campaign digitally, by mail and TV. My current campaign in the general campaign is being run in a similar, although a bit more flexible manner.”
Garbarino’s Democratic opponent in that upcoming November 3rd general election is Jackie Gordon, who defeated her primary opponent Patricia Maher by a more than 2-1 margin. A 29-year United States Army Reserve combat veteran who retired from the military in 2014 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and through most of those same years worked as a high school guidance counsellor and also served from 2007 to this year as the councilwoman for the southwestern Suffolk County town of Babylon, Gordon has been said to enjoy the respect of both Democrats and Republicans, including Garbarino himself, for her work in public service.
“I hold a high degree of respect for Ms. Gordon’s military service and her work as an educator and local public official,” Garbarino stated.
However, he quickly made it clear to me that he separates his respect for his opponent’s impressive background from what he contends are her extreme leftist positions, which Garbarino asserted, she is trying to hide from voters.
“While Ms. Gordon’s resume is quite impressive, it should not be confused with the extreme leftist Democratic Party policies she supports, which she has tried very hard to hide from the voters of our district,” contended Garbarino, who added that Gordon also won the nomination of the hard-left leaning Working Families Party.
“Ms. Gordon,’’ he charged, “has carefully avoided answering questions from voters about her far out of the mainstream policies, which are in total accord with her ideological left controlled Democratic Party, as well as those of the Working Families Party.”
Citing as his first specific example of policies which he contends Gordon is trying to shield from the voters, Garbarino stated, “Ms. Gordon has tried to hide the fact that she along with her Democratic Party supports anti-law enforcement funding legislation, which if enacted, would result in cutting federal funds to local police departments, including inevitably, our own police departments here in Suffolk and Nassau.”
In addition, Garbarino asserted that his opponent is also attempting to hide her support of federal bail reform policies proposed by leading House Democrats. “Ms. Gordon’s Democratic Party’s bail reform proposals include eliminating cash bail for most defendants charged in federal criminal court cases, such as drug sales, identify theft and even child pornography. It is no wonder why she refuses to respond, when questioned about it,” he charged.
The GOP’ candidate’s final criticism of Gordon centered on the controversial 2019 Medicare-for-all bill. Currently being debated in the House of Representatives, the bill, which has been opposed by every one of the 199 House Republicans and supported by an overwhelming majority of the 235 House Democrats, would, if it became law, place the federal government in almost total control of all forms of medical care for every American, making it even more expansive than the original plan proposed in the Senate by Bernie Sanders in 2016.
To Garbarino, Gordon’s refusal to publicly state her opposition to the Medicare-for-all legislative proposal is unsettling, but not surprising. “As the experience with similar programs in such countries as England and Canada illustrate, this bill, if passed, would result in Americans waiting several long and dangerous months to have even vital surgery performed,” stated Garbarino. “It would also,” he elaborated, “empower the federal government to, as a cost cutting method, deny treatment to the elderly and seriously ill… It is troubling, but unfortunately predictable, that Ms. Gordon would not break with her own party to oppose this awful bill.”
Garbarino later described his own policy positions, which, if elected, he said, he will bring to Washington. “Just as in the assembly I fought against the bail reform bill which, when it unfortunately became law in 2020 despite unanimous Republican opposition, resulted in a severe rise in crime across the state, I’ll stand up to Speaker Pelosi, Congresswoman Cortez and the rest of the far-left Democrats to make certain that they do not pass similar dangerous laws in the Congress,” he promised.
“I will also,” he continued, “push for legislation that brings additional law-enforcement resources to the country, the state and our district; support legislation which protects the exclusive right of local governments to set and enforce residential zoning laws; and as the COVID-19 health crisis continues, it will be my priority to secure for our district sustained federal financial assistance to families, small business owners and the workers they employ.”
To accomplish those goals, Garbarino, of course, must first win this highly competitive general election contest, which, as of this writing, a majority of independent polling firms continue to calculate to be a “toss-up’’ race. So, throughout the remaining 6 weeks of the campaign, voters in the 2nd Congressional District might well expect to hear Garbarino even further urging them to separate his opponent’s resume from her polices.