Republican Ari Brown Scores Resounding Victory in Nassau Assembly Race

By Reuvain Borchardt

Republican Ari Brown speaking at his campaign headquarters in Island Park, N.Y., Thursday night, following his victory in a special election for the 20th Assembly seat. (Reuvain Borchardt/Hamodia)

ISLAND PARK, N.Y. — Republican Ari Brown defeated Democrat David Lobl by a 2-1 margin in a special election for the New York State Assembly’s 20th District seat, as Republicans continue to gain momentum on Long Island and predict victories across the state and nationally next November.

“This is just the beginning of a red wave like never before,” Brown said Thursday night, after he won the seat — covering areas including the Five Towns, Island Park, Long Beach and Atlantic Beach — which was vacated by Republican Melissa “Missy” Miller in February, who took a position on the Hempstead Town Board.

Brown, who ran on the Republican and Conservative lines, won 4,667 votes to Lobl’s 2,413.

Brown, 54, has held local political office for more than two decades, including as a Cedarhurst trustee since 2001 and deputy mayor since 2019. His day job is owner of a homebuilding company. This was his first race for a position in state government. Lobl, 37, was running in his first election. He previously served as Jewish liaison in the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for six years, and has also worked as a lobbyist and political consultant.

Brown and Lobl are both Orthodox Jews who self-identify as politically conservative, and who squared off in a race mostly based on party affiliation rather than policy differences.

Brown and his supporters contended that Democratic policies have been detrimental to New York, and that Republicans must be elected to enact change in the blue state. Lobl’s campaign argued that legislators in the minority are powerless, that the community would therefore be better represented by a member in the Democratic super-majority, and that change can best be achieved by electing moderate Democrats.

The moderate district has a Democratic registration advantage of approximately 5,000 voters (around 8% of active voters), and voted for Republican Donald Trump by six points in 2020. Prior to Miller’s first winning election in 2016, the seat had been held by a number of Democrats.

But Brown won a decisive victory Thursday, months after Republican wins in the area in November 2021 — including flipping the Nassau County executive seat, Nassau and Suffolk district attorney seats, as well as two New York City Council seats. Democrats’ woes in the state appear to be driven by anger over rising crime, which some have attributed to the 2019 law that curtailed cash bail. Republicans also are well-positioned to win a majority in Congress later this year, amid the unpopularity of the Biden administration and soaring inflation.

Brown (L) celebrating his victory with Nassau County GOP chair Jospeh G. Cairo, Jr. (Reuvain Borchardt/Hamodia)

“One of the biggest issues in the election was cashless bail,” Gabriel Boxer, a local political activist and Republican state Senate candidate who volunteered on Brown’s campaign, told Hamodia Thursday night. “People want to feel safe and they wanted someone going up to Albany who would have their back, defend the blue, defend police.”

Lobl himself is an opponent of the bail reform, but in an election based on party identity, the Democrat was trounced.

“People are fed up with the status quo,” said Boxer. “There is a red wave coming across Nassau County and New York. People wanted change.”

Michael Fragin, an advisor to the state GOP chairman and Five Towns resident, told Hamodia, “New York voters very clearly want an end to one-party rule in Albany that is making New York unaffordable and unsafe.”

Anthony D’Esposito, a Republican Hempstead Town Councilman who supported Brown, disputed that notion that the district would have been better off if represented by a Democrat.

“We saw that Missy Miller, while she was a member in the minority, she did a great job, she delivered for her communities,” said D’Esposito, who is running for Congress this year for the seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice. “We have Republican Assembly men and women who represent parts of Nassau County who deliver for their communities.”

Republicans also say that as they have a good chance this year to win the governor’s race and enough races in the state Legislature to eliminate the Democratic super-majority, individual Republican legislators are poised to gain more power and influence.

Brown’s comments following his victory focused mostly not on his own race, but on what he believes is a larger picture of an upcoming red wave.

“People are tired of the crime. People are tired of being told what to do,” Brown said. “We’re going to take back America. We started with this campaign and we’re going to move forward … right through to 2024.”

New York Democrats who spoke with Hamodia agree that their party appears to be in trouble in the coming election.

“I think last night’s results should certainly concern Democrats across New York State,” Democratic former New York City Councilman David Greenfield told Hamodia on Friday. “There was a very well qualified Democratic candidate who had run in what should have been a competitive race, but the larger issues such as bail and COVID are what dominated the elections. As Democrats, we need to be listening to our constituency that is very clearly frustrated.”

Several Democratic politicos who spoke on condition of anonymity said they believe Lee Zeldin, the presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee, may well defeat Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul this November. A recent poll by Republican consulting group Big Dog Strategies shows Zeldin within four points of Hochul.

Following this special election, Brown will have to try win his seat again in a matter of months: The regularly scheduled primary election will be held June 28, followed by a general election in November. The candidates had completed petitioning for the regular elections even before this special election day. 

However, while Lobl himself did not respond to Hamodia’s request for comment Thursday night, a source close to him told Hamodia that after this conclusive defeat, Lobl would be dropping out of the regular election race.

Nassau County GOP chair Jospeh G. Cairo, Jr. announcing a precinct result, at Brown campaign headquarters, Thursday night . (Reuvain Borchardt/Hamodia)

Nassau County GOP chair Jospeh G. Cairo, Jr. introducing Brown as the (unofficial) newest New York state Assemblymember. (Reuvain Borchardt/Hamodia)

Brown speaking following his victory. (Reuvain Borchardt/Hamodia)

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!