NY GOP Candidates Line Up to Challenge Sen. Gillibrand in November

Broome County GOP is hosting a state Republican nominating convention to select its next U.S. Senate candidate.
NY GOP Candidates Line Up to Challenge Sen. Gillibrand in November
Broome County Republican Committee Chair Benji Federman (Courtesy of Benji Federman)
Juliette Fairley

GOP county chairs, state committee members, party activists, and local supporters met in downtown Binghamton this morning to nominate a candidate to campaign against U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in November’s general election.

For the first time in some 20 years, the Broome County GOP is hosting a state Republican nominating convention on Thursday. Afterwards, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) will speak during a luncheon fundraiser for Congressman Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.).

“Poll after poll, we see the voters of New York State believe our state and country are heading in the wrong direction,” Broome County Republican Committee Chair Benji Federman told The Epoch Times. “We need to turn the direction of our state around. One of the big ways that we do that is beating Kirsten Gillibrand and electing a Republican senator who’s going to focus on the issues that matter to the residents of New York State.”

Candidates include businessman Josh Eisen, 51; retired New York Police Department detective Mike Sapraicone; and 44-year old athlete Cara Castranuova.

All three have strong GOP support from county parties and individual Republican politicians.

For example, Ms. Castranuova is endorsed by the Staten Island Republican Party, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Roger Stone, advisor to former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Cara Castranuova. (Courtesy of Cara Castranuova)
Cara Castranuova. (Courtesy of Cara Castranuova)

She received a hearty 42 percent of the vote while unsuccessfully campaigning for state Assembly two years ago in the 22nd district.

“Cara has all the qualities necessary to be a strong candidate,” Mr. Stone told The Epoch Times. “The GOP nominee should be someone who is an unabashed and full-throated supporter of President Donald Trump and the America First agenda because we saw firsthand in the recent special election in Long Island’s 3rd Congressional District what happens when you nominate a Republican candidate [Mazi Pilip] who, in this case was actually a registered Democrat, but who also ran away from Donald Trump.”

Ms. Pilip, the Republican candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, was defeated by Democrat Tom Suozzi on Feb. 13 in the special election to fill the seat of Rep. George Santos who was expelled from Congress in December last year.

Josh Eisen, co-chairman of the George Pataki Foundation, previously unsuccessfully campaigned for a congressional seat in the Hudson Valley in 2020.

Josh Eisen. (Courtesy of Josh Eisen)
Josh Eisen. (Courtesy of Josh Eisen)

Mr. Eisen is backed by former Gov. George Pataki and the New York Young Republican Club.

“Josh has been a supporter of a variety of Republican and conservative causes in New York State,” New York Young Republican Club President Gavin Wax told The Epoch Times. “He is a stalwart supporter of the broader movement.”

Former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato, and Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Nick Lalota, Mike Lawler, alongside the Nassau County GOP, have endorsed Mr. Sapraicone, who launched a successful international security company after retiring from the NYPD.

Mike Sapraicone. (Courtesy of Mr. Sapraicone)
Mike Sapraicone. (Courtesy of Mr. Sapraicone)
He also briefly campaigned for the nomination to replace Mr. Santos and was chairman of the Seaford Union Free School District Board of Education in 2010.

“There’s no more challenging a job than going on your local community school board where he served as chairman,” Mr. D’Amato told The Epoch Times. “He is a great community activist and he knows the law.”

All the candidates have vowed to support President Trump if he is elected president again.

Ms. Castranuova, a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champion, has pinned a photo of herself standing next to President Trump on her Instagram page.

“I’m a Republican and I’m not ashamed to say it and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a supporter of President Trump,” Ms. Castranuova told The Epoch Times. “I think he had great policies. So many regular people feel like they can’t associate themselves publicly with a president who they think did a really good job because they’re fearful of being canceled.”

Mr. Sapraicone said he looks forward to President Trump being the nominee and working with him for four years if he’s elected to the Senate. But he’s been criticized for donating funds to Democrats.

He’s also donated $500,000 to the Republican party, according to Mr. Sapraicone’s communications director Scott Glick.

“As a business person, you have to deal with different sides,” Mr. Sapraicone told The Epoch Times. “I certainly gave more money to the Republicans, but I did give some money to the Democrats. I think that’s important as you do business.”

A Westchester County entrepreneur, Mr. Eisen has captured endorsements from the Brooklyn Republican Committee and Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY). Ms. Gillibrand’s campaign spokesman Evan Lukaske accused Mr. Eisen of being a Make America Great Again (MAGA) Republican.

“What Americans are probably going to love about me is that I fight back,” Mr. Eisen said. “They love that about Donald Trump too because most Americans feel very bullied, very beaten down by institutions and media.”

Like Mr. Sapraicone, Mr. Eisen has been criticized for donating money to Democrats. However, he’s also donated $1 million to the GOP.

“I’m not just one of these guys whose first foray into public service is running for office,” Mr. Eisen told The Epoch Times. “I’m a public servant all the time. I’m always out in my community trying to help by tutoring kids, delivering meals, and taking people into my home when there’s a fire. I almost never talk about it.”

Juliette Fairley is a freelance reporter for The Epoch Times and a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Born in Chateauroux, France, and raised outside of Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, Juliette is a well-adjusted military brat. She has written for many publications across the country. Send Juliette story ideas at [email protected]
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