GOP Taps LaLota for Zeldin’s Congressional Seat

Nick LaLota
Nick LaLota

Republicans have nominated Nicholas LaLota, a Suffolk County political operative from Amityville, as the party’s candidate to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who represents the East End in Congress.

The Suffolk County Republican Committee tapped LaLota a week before the New York State Republican Party nominated Zeldin as its gubernatorial candidate — the congressman is forgoing re-election to seek higher office — and months after multiple Democratic contenders threw their hats in the ring.

“I accepted the nomination and pledge to do my part to put the House’s gavel back in the right hands,” tweeted LaLota, alluding to the GOP’s bid to flip the U.S. House of Representatives from its current Democratic majority under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in November’s midterm elections.

Party faithful are betting on a repeat of last year’s red wave — the increased GOP voter turnout in response to Democratic President Joe Biden unseating former Republican President Donald Trump — on Election Day. The race will be the first since New York State lawmakers recently redrew the congressional maps under the decennial redistricting process that GOP advocates filed a lawsuit to block, alleging Democrats tilted the odds in their favor. New York’s First Congressional District, which previously covered the five East End towns and eastern Brookhaven, now includes less of Brookhaven and runs through central Suffolk to eastern Nassau County.

LaLota, a married father of three, is a U.S. Navy veteran, former commissioner of the Suffolk board of elections, an ex-Village of Amityville trustee, and currently serves as chief of staff to Suffolk Legislator Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), the newly minted presiding officer of the county legislature.

He faces a potential Republican primary on June 28 from three candidates: U.S. military veteran Robert Cornicelli of Saint James, former Brookhaven Town deputy supervisor Anthony Figliola of East Setauket and Edward Moore Jr., an entrepreneur from Smithtown.

Democrats who previously announced plans to run in the Democratic primary preceding the race for Zeldin’s open seat are Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn (D-East Setauket), Suffolk Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) and former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jacki Gordon.

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