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Three candidates face off in GOP primary for 1st Congressional District

Three candidates will vie to become the Republican candidate in the newly redrawn 1st Congressional District and occupy the seat vacated by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is running for governor. The primary will be held Tuesday, Aug. 23.

The Republican primary winner faces Democrat Bridget Fleming of Sag Harbor in November. She is a current county legislator and former Southampton Town councilwoman. Several candidates had announced campaigns for the Democratic nomination, but Ms. Fleming emerged as the party’s candidate in mid-May after Legislator Kara Hahn dropped her own campaign to support Ms. Fleming.

The Republican primary candidates are: Nick LaLota, 44, of Amityville, who was the choice of the Republican committee; Anthony Figliola, 42, of East Setauket; and Michelle Bond, 46, of Port Jefferson.

Early voting for the primary ended Sunday. Voting on the day of the primary takes place at voters’ usual polling places. For more information, visit, suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/BOE.

The three GOP candidates agree on many issues. Mr. LaLota and Mr. Figliola participated in an Aug. 8 debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons, Shelter Island and the North Fork., but Ms. Bond did not. The debate can be viewed on the League of Women Voters’ YouTube channel.

All of the candidates have campaign websites outlining their respective backgrounds and positions on issues.

Mr. LaLota is a former Navy lieutenant, a former Republican commissioner at the Suffolk County Board of Elections and a former trustee in the Village of Amityville. He currently serves as chief of staff for the Suffolk County Legislature. 

Mr. LaLota currently does not live in the 1st Congressional District, but he says he has put his Amityville home up for sale and will relocate to a home in the district. The Constitution only requires that members of Congress live in the state they represent.

Among the positions Mr. LaLota has expressed and posted on his campaign website are support for voter identification and limiting absentee ballots.

“The proliferation of absentee ballots has also opened the door to fraud by impersonation,” he said, although there’s been no evidence that absentee balloting, which increased during the pandemic, led to widespread fraud.

He backs former President Donald Trump on economic issues, saying, “For most of the last several years, our national and local economies were booming, such was especially the case under President Trump and the Republican Congress.”

Mr. Figliola is executive vice president of a government relations firm and was previously deputy supervisor in Brookhaven Town, a position in which he says he worked to bring jobs and businesses to the area.

“My work within the private sector continues to closely align with my work in government,” he said. “I have championed major legislation that led to the creation of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions [of dollars] in local investments.”

Mr. LaLota says he is “pro-life” and supports the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating federal Constitutional protection for a woman’s right to abortion, which had been in place for nearly 50 years.

Mr. Figliola said he believes life begins at conception and that “we should fight for the child and the mother.”

Mr. LaLota expressed a similar viewpoint.

“We should celebrate life and protect it,” he said, adding that parents should be notified if their child is having an abortion. “You can’t get a aspirin in schools unless the parents are notified,” he added.

Ms. Bond said she is pro-life and believes “every life is sacred.”

Abortion remains legal in New York, and any changes in that law would be done at the state level going forward. 

On the issue of guns, Mr. LaLota says he is a gun owner and “will do everything that I can to protect our rights to safely and responsibly protect ourselves and our families from the violent criminals.”

At the online debate, both Mr. LaLota and Mr. Figliola opposed additional restrictions on guns, and said more should be done to address mental health issues.

Ms. Bond did not address that issue on her website. 

On her campaign website, she said that she is a “strong supporter of President Trump’s America First mind set.”

Both Mr. LaLota and Mr. Figliola agreed that federal agencies should not be given additional regulatory authority and that this power should rest with the elected legislature.

Mr. LaLota said this was a problem during the pandemic when decisions were made by governors and via executive orders. 

All three candidates spoke about election fraud, echoing national GOP talking points.

“Half the country believes the election was stolen,” Mr. Figliola said, referring to Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump.

“I believe Trump was elected,” he said.

Mr. Biden secured 306 electoral votes in the 2020 election, while Mr. Trump secured 232 and Republicans were unable to provide any evidence to prove election fraud altered the outcome.

Ms. Bond has law degrees from both Baruch College and Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. She is licensed to practice in New York and Washington D.C.

She says she’s running because she understands the issues and knows how to fix them.

Ms. Bond is chief executive officer of the Association for Digital Asset Markets and says she “works day in and day out with Congress and the Executive branch to create an environment where a new financial world can unleash their innovations.”

The new map for the 1st Congressional District cuts out a portion of the South Shore that had formerly been included and now incorporates more western territory along the county’s North Shore. The district includes all of the East End and extends as far west as the Suffolk/Nassau border, encompassing what was once the 3rd Congressional District.