Long Islanders vie for Rep. Israel’s seat 1

State Sen. Jack Martins, left, Anna Kaplan, Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci, Lt. Col. David Gurfein and Brad Gerstman.

The race for the seat of soon-to-be retired Rep. Steve Israel (D-Suffolk, Nassau, Queens) is getting crowded a little more than a week after the longtime lawmaker announced he will not seek re-election later this year.

Republican state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Nassau) and Democrat Anna Kaplan, a town councilwoman in North Hempstead and a former Forest Hills resident, filed statements of candidacy last Thursday and Monday, respectively.

Martins, of Old Westbury, has been a state senator since 2011 and voted against the Marriage Equality Act later that year when it passed the Legislature. He made the news last year when he was serving as acting Senate president during a session days after then-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son were indicted and refused to acknowledge a motion by Democrats to remove the now-convicted Long Island senator from his position of power. Martins’ refusal led the minority party to walk out of the Senate chambers.

Kaplan, of Manhasset, would be the first Iranian-American elected to Congress if she wins the Nov. 8 election. She is already the first Iranian-born politician to hold public office in New York State.

She was born in the Middle East but moved shortly after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, first going to Brooklyn and Chicago before making Queens her home.

The two join Republican Lt. Col David Gurfein, of Manhasset, and Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Suffolk), who have filed statements of candidacy.

Lupinacci, of Huntington, was elected to the state’s lower chamber in 2012, before that serving on the South Huntington Union Free School Board as a trustee.

Gurfein is a Marine who served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as Desert Storm. He also has experience on the big screen as the Marine who stopped Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” from attacking Tom Cruise.

Nassau County attorney Brad Gerstman, founding partner of Gotham Government Relations & Communications, last Thursday announced the creation of an exploratory committee to see if he should run for Israel’s seat.

Gerstman was recently in the news after he released his list of the best-dressed male politicians, which included Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) and state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria).

Democratic Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern, of Dix Hills, on Thursday announced his candidacy. 

"With the support of my family, friends and so many of my neighbors in our community, I look forward to building a grassroots campaign from the ground up, working together on a new vision for our District and our great nation," Stern said.

Congressional primaries are on June 28.

Israel — who has represented parts of north and northeast Queens after redistricting following the 2010 Census placed the areas into his district — announced his impending retirement from Congress last Tuesday, saying he wants to “pursue new passions and develop new interests, mainly spend more time writing my second novel.” His first novel, “The Global War on Morris,” was published in late 2014.

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