Labate, Lally set for GOP primary to unseat Israel

By William Lewis

New York state’s 3rd Congressional District, which runs along the north shore of Long Island, is in three counties: Nassau, Suffolk and Queens. It contains, within its Queens part, Douglaston, Little Neck and parts of Whitestone and Bayside.

There will be a Republican primary June 24 to choose the candidate to oppose U.S. Rep. Steven Israel (D-Melville). That will be the case if both candidates qualify for ballot position by getting enough petition signatures.

Those running are Mineola, L.I., attorney Grant Lally and Stephen Labate, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Both have run for office before. Lally ran against former Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman in the 1990s. Labate ran against Israel two years ago. Both candidates seem optimistic about winning the primary.

Looking at their strengths, Lally has gotten the endorsement of the Republican and Conservative parties in all three counties.

That leaves Lally as the organization candidate and Labate as the insurgent, although having run two years ago gives Labate recent experience and contact with Republican voters in the district. Lally has been active in politics for a long time and will also be able to maintain a significant campaign staff.

Lally and Labate oppose the U.S. Affordable Care Act. Lally believes individual citizens should be able to control their own healthcare and that the government should not interfere. Labate thinks Obamacare is hurting the job market from the standpoint that employers will be reluctant to hire more workers, not knowing the cost of medical insurance. Both favor creating jobs and cutting taxes.

This year will give us a June congressional primary rather than one in September. It will be quite a change, but the winner of the primary, unlike two years ago, will have almost the entire summer to campaign against the incumbent Israel, rather than just September and October.

There will be at least several debates between Lally and Labate. They both will emphasize their backgrounds and experiences.

As to who wins this seat in November, a lot depends on how the gubernatorial race turns out. If Gov. Andrew Cuomo does well and wins by a wide margin, it should be a big help to Israel.

On the Republican side, if Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is the candidate and wins over Cuomo, it will benefit the winner of the Republican primary in the district as well as the congressional seats around the state.

Other races will be affected, including for state Senate and state Assembly. Republicans think they have a good chance of coming up with a significant majority in the Senate as well as increasing their majority in Congress.

Before the Republican primary is over in the district, we will see a tough and hard-fought race. How well-financed each contender is will play a major role in the outcome.

At the recent meeting of the Queens Village Republican Club, at which both Lally and Labate appeared, there was a huge crowd of club members and invited guests. There were more than 75 people. It would seem to indicate that there will be considerable interest in this year’s political races in New York.

Right now the petition drive is on, and getting enough signatures from registered voters is important. There are sometimes petition challenges, when one side tries to disqualify the petitions of the other.

Before any primary or general election is held, petitions must qualify a candidate.

It is going to be a long political year with many interesting developments.

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