New York’s 4th congressional district in Nassau County swung dramatically from 2020 to 2022, helping Republicans to recapture the majority in the U.S. House.
Now, it is fit to be a prime battleground in 2024, with Democrats eyeing a big pickup opportunity.
What You Need To Know
- New York's 4th congressional district is fit to be a prime battleground next year. In 2020, President Joe Biden dominated in the district by nearly 15 points. In 2022, Republican Anthony D’Esposito won the seat by roughly 4 points
- Among the high profile Democrats looking to make D’Esposito a one-term congressman are former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen and State Sen. Kevin Thomas
- Legislatively, both Gillen and Thomas point to similar priorities, including gun safety and combating climate change. But one spark point could be bail reform in Albany, which Thomas has supported and Gillen has criticized
- Sarah Hughes, a 2002 Olympic gold medal figure skater, has also filed paperwork to run in the Democratic primary
Several Democrats have already filed to run.
President Joe Biden dominated in the district by nearly 15 points in 2020.
Two years later, Republican Anthony D’Esposito won the seat by roughly 4 points.
Among the high profile Democrats looking to make D’Esposito a one-term congressman are former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen and State Sen. Kevin Thomas.
Thomas touts his work in Albany, including on consumer issues and guns.
“Given what happened in Buffalo, it was my bill that raised the age from 18 to 21 for these individuals to purchase semi-automatic,” he said, referring to the 2022 mass shooting at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo that left 10 dead. “We need a national bill of that caliber.”'
Gillen says her work in Hempstead shows she is capable of reaching across the aisle.
“I had a Republican controlled board … and I found ways to get things done,” she said. “Whether through a carrot or a stick, I found ways to actually get ethics legislation passed, to get whistleblower legislation passed.”
Gillen ran here last year, losing to D’Esposito in the general election. She says this time, if she is the Democratic nominee, things will be different.
“I got in very late because of the unexpected retirement of [former Congresswoman] Kathleen Rice. So this election cycle, I have more time, I’ll have more resources. It’s going to be a different electorate in 2024 — we always have better turnout in presidential years,” she said.
Legislatively, both Gillen and Thomas point to similar priorities, including gun safety and combating climate change.
But one spark point could be bail reform in Albany, which Thomas has supported and Gillen has criticized.
Asked if mistakes were made in how the original bail reform measure was crafted, Thomas said, “I wouldn’t say they were mistakes. In 2019, when we passed the piece of legislation, it was to bring a balance because no one should be sitting in jail over what they have in their bank account. So I believe what we did was the right thing. And in order to improve the piece of legislation, we made changes.”
Their congressional bids come as New York grapples with the influx of migrants. Both candidates are looking to Washington for more action.
“I believe the Biden administration really needs to give expedited work authorizations to the migrants. It is not their fault that they are here,” Thomas said.
“DC is not doing enough and our local government [is] doing the best they can,” Gillen said. “But this is a problem that’s caused by the larger issue of immigration that has to be addressed.”
Both also criticize D’Esposito, painting him as out of touch with the district.
Gillen described him as “just voting with his party boss” and “not to be trusted.”
Thomas labeled him a “MAGA Republican” who pretends to be a moderate.
In a statement to Spectrum News, D’Esposito weighed in on the primary field, saying, “While my Democratic opponents continue to mis-characterize my bipartisan record and increasingly race further left in an attempt to impress their progressive donors, I will continue working hard in Congress to combat New York Democrats’ pro-criminal public safety policies like bail reform, reduce out-of-control taxes plaguing Long Islanders, and secure our borders.”
Sarah Hughes, a 2002 Olympic gold medal figure skater, has also filed paperwork to run in the Democratic primary in New York’s 4th congressional district, but so far, she has not officially announced her candidacy.