Grant Lally: Congressional Candidate Wins Republican Primary, Faces a Tough General Election

“It was a lot closer than I thought it would be, but I am thankful that I won,” Grant Lally, the Republican Conservative candidate for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District, which covers northern portions of Nassau and Suffolk Counties and northern slabs of Queens County, told me in a recent interview conducted in his Mineola campaign headquarters.

Lally was referring to his 11-vote win over his opponent, Steve Labate, in the June Republican primary—a margin providing, said some pundits, a contemporary definition of the old political term “razor-thin victory.”

In addition to being thankful for his victory, Lally, said he felt appreciative that Labate had accepted the results without a recount. Labate a 46-year-old financial planner, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and Lally, a partner in a major law firm and a longtime Republican activist, were engaged in a fierce battle during their almost yearlong primary battle.

Among their attacks, each questioned the other’s chances to defeat the six-term incumbent Steve Israel, with Lally referencing Labate’s 57 to 43 percent loss to Israel in 2012 and Labate citing Lally’s 10 percent plus 1994 and 1996 losses to then Congressman Ackerman in the since reconfigured 5th Congressional District.

“I want to thank Steve Labate,” Lally said about his former opponent. “He has served our nation with distinction in uniform. After a long and tough primary election battle, Steve’s decision to forego a challenge showed graciousness, and I wish him and his family well. We can now turn our attention to the November election and our fight to defeat Steve Israel.”

Differences From Incumbent

To accomplish that, Lally said he planned to explain to voters throughout the campaign the type of bills he would support if elected, and contrast such with the actual legislation that Israel has voted for and supported in the past. Speaking first on their differences over the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), Lally stated, “Steve Israel voted for ‘Obamacare’ and was a major original supporter of ‘Obamacare.’ He backed Nancy Pelosi, who told Congress they had to vote for it to find out what was in it.”

“Since ‘Obamacare’ was passed without real oversight,” Lally continued, “it has been marked by waivers, failures, and exemptions. What we have now is a patchwork of government mandates and taxes … ‘Obamacare’ needs to be repealed and reformed.”

Those reforms, Lally stated, would include “replacing this crazy quilt of regulations, taxes, penalties, and exemptions with a system that cuts ‘Obamacare’s’ staggering and unnecessary bureaucratic costs and allowing individual consumers and businesses to shop for medical insurance from anywhere in the country—an option that recognizes how markets work in the 21st century.”

Lally was also critical of Steve Israel’s support of President Obama’s regulations on businesses and tax policies, and stated that the new policies he and Democrat and Republican pro-business members of Congress would replace them with would revitalize the economy, which he claimed was suffering under the president.

“There has been a 153 percent increase of federal business regulations during the first five years of the Obama administration,” Lally said. “These destructive regulations, which Steve Israel has supported, have been extremely harmful to small businesses, a major impediment to real job growth and have led to the present weak condition our economy. … I will fight to protect small businesses and create new private sector jobs by working to put an end to these destructive regulations. … Steve Israel has also supported the enormous tax hikes that the president has imposed on the middle class. I would vote to repeal these tax increases and replace them with major tax reductions that our hard working, over taxed middle class citizens need and deserve.”

As critical as he had been throughout the interview concerning Israel’s support of Obama’s domestic policies, Lally saved his most severe attack for the Democrat incumbent’s support of the foreign policy of both the president and Democrat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. 

“President Obama,” said Lally, “has criticized and undermined the State of Israel, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi referred to the terrorist Hamas organization that controls Gaza, as a ‘humanitarian organization.’ Steve Israel, who continues to give President Obama and Nancy Pelosi his 100 percent unconditional support, never questioned nor disputed her embrace of the terror group. Isn’t that a disgrace?”

“Hamas,” Lally further stated, “has pledged to kill Jews, Christians, and Americans, and they are firing thousands of missiles at civilian neighborhoods [in Israel] to try to implement their threat. Our president’s response is to lecture Israel about the civilian casualties that were caused as a direct result of Hamas using women and children as human shields by placing terror rocket launchers aimed at Israeli civilian populations in Gaza’s schools, mosques, and hospitals. What does the president expect Israel to do under those circumstances? 

“It is disappointing to note that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan appear to better understand the horrible danger that Hamas presents to the region than does President Obama. Equally distressing, our president has taken but minimum action as ISIS slaughters thousands of Christians, Shiites, and Yazidis throughout the Middle East.

“I will do every thing in my power to work with Republicans and responsible Democrats in Congress to finally try to awaken the president to the dangers that his present policies of criticizing our allies and appeasing our enemies present to the people in the Middle East, Africa, and in fact, throughout the world—and to convince him to change those misdirected policies.”

Tough Campaign Expected

Lally, however, still has to get elected first and faces what is expected to be a very tough campaign. Yet, about his chances of defeating Steve Israel, who as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the political wing of the Democratic Party in the House, wields tremendous power within the party and possesses enormous fundraising ability, Lally was optimistic.

While polls on congressional races customarily are not conducted until after Labor Day, Lally listed results of a recent National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) poll that he contended demonstrated Israel’s vulnerability, making this, he said, a winnable election.

“The fact is that 43 percent of the voters in the district identify themselves as Republicans as compared to 42 percent who identify as Democrats. More important, of polls surveying all of Mr. Israel’s constituents—Republicans, Democrats, and independents—only 37% approve of his job performance and only 33 percent believe he deserves to be re-elected.”

The Republican candidate stated that his positive reaction to these polls is not dampened by the virtual certainty that Steve Israel’s camp will attempt to attack his campaign by replaying a legal challenge Lally encountered after his 1996 campaign against Ackerman. While not charged with any criminal violations, Lally’s campaign paid a $280,000 fine to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for alleged infractions of campaign finance laws. Lally told me that he was confident that once the voters learn who initiated these charges, he would be vindicated.

“It was Lois Lerner,” Lally stated, “the same Lois Lerner who has been held in criminal contempt for her illegal targeting of conservative groups while she served at the IRS, and started her career at the FEC, where she targeted my 1996 campaign and those of other Republicans, like Illinois’s Al Salvi. … Because I dared to challenge a powerful Democrat incumbent, Lerner and the DCCC coordinated a ‘death audit’ against my campaign and my family, and even threatened to destroy my law practice and clients.”

Explaining that he agreed to the settlement with the FCC to avoid a long and extremely costly legal battle, Lally quickly pointed out that the FCC found that he had had not personally violated any laws.

Referring then to a 2012 controversy involving Congressman Israel—who after a messy divorce from his second wife, Marlene Budd, then an acting NYS Supreme Court Judge—got an eye-raising, though not illegal, deal on a sale of his Suffolk house from political donors, Lally declared, “If Steve Israel wants to bring up the past, I have absolutely no problem comparing my circumstances with his. But I believe the voters really want us to focus on the issues that directly impact their lives and influence the future of our nation.”

Let the campaign begin.

Robert Golomb is a nationally published columnist.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.