News & Politics

Brad Schwartz to challenge state Sen. Jack Martins on Long Island

Schwartz ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2018 but is now ready to make another attempt.

Courtesy of Brad Schwartz

Former TV and film editor Brad Schwartz is mounting a new run for the 7th state Senate District covering Long Island’s North Shore, which is currently held by Republican Jack Martins. The district overlaps with the 3rd Congressional District, former Rep. George Santos’ old stomping grounds. The 3rd Congressional District is one of two competitive districts on Long Island and is being targeted by Republicans and Democrats in 2024. Schwartz said a successful campaign for the 7th Senate District could mean restoring faith in politicians and bringing fresh ideas to Albany. 

“I'm going to be 45 next month, and I don't remember any point in my life where trust was this low and I don't blame citizens for feeling that way,” Schwartz told City & State in an exclusive interview. “There are too many elected officials who appear to be in office for the wrong reasons, and I can't help but bring it up because it's just so germane to today, but George Santos, he's not just a case in point he's a boiling symptom of that malady and I think the danger of his year-long presence in our capital was just how low he set the bar of conduct for politicians.”

Schwartz formally announced his campaign on Tuesday. In addition to his entertainment bona fides, Schwartz is gay and Jewish, in the literal sense (unlike Santos, who was merely “Jew-ish”). He also said he would have a deeper understanding of what he'd do in Albany given his recent doctoral studies in public policy at Johns Hopkins University.

In addition to Schwartz, two other challengers have filed to enter the Democratic primary for the 7th Senate District, according to the New York State Board of Elections. Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan filed in November (just before formally dropping out of the Democratic primary for the 3rd Congressional District) and businessman and sports promoter Adam Muhammad Azam filed in August. In the early days of his campaign, Schwartz raised $58,561 compared to Lafazan’s 2023 haul of $436,889. Data wasn’t available for Azam.

Second time’s the charm?

Schwartz previously ran for the seat in 2018 but dropped out of the Democratic primary after the Working Families Party endorsed Anna Kaplan, who went on to win both the primary election and the general election. But Martins, returning from a foray into congressional politics, took the seat back from Kaplan in 2022. Kaplan is now running for Santos’ old seat. 

Schwartz said he took away some lessons from his unsuccessful 2018 run, especially related to third-party dynamics. “The Working Families Party was supposed to stay neutral in the race, and once they endorsed Anna, the situation became very problematic because if I won the primary, under New York state law, she could not be removed from the general election ballot as the Working Families Party nominee,” he said.

Schwartz said that he chose to drop out of the Democratic primary to avoid potentially splitting the progressive vote in the general election. “In a race where we weren't thinking that it would be decided by a 1% or .5% margin, having your primary opponent on the second most important line (the Working Families Party) to siphon off votes,” he said.

Ahead of the new campaign, Schwartz called on old supporters. “I had a lot of support in my original race, a lot, and It's still there and I've called some people early, and they're very excited about me running again. I'm grateful for the support.” That’s probably wise given the fundraising demands in the North Shore. 

All eyes on Nassau County

If Schwartz wins the Democratic primary for the 7th Senate District, he will likely face Martins in the general election – but it’s possible he won’t. Schwartz said he thinks the state GOP could tap Martins to run in the special congressional election to replace Santos. “For the special election the party is going to tap somebody, right? And I think Jack Martins will probably be tapped,” he said. “I don't know. It'll either be him I think or Mazi Pilip. Jack Martins, we will see. I don't know if he's necessarily going to be the opponent yet.”

This race will coincide with state party apparatuses trying to revamp or consolidate their positions in Nassau County. Republicans have been dishing out beatings to Democrats on Long Island for years now. If Democrats fail to retake Santos’ seat in the February special election, they may look towards the 7th Senate District for a way back. 

Schwartz said he is less focused on statewide politics than on local issues like the environment, taxes, transportation, healthcare, schools and affordability. He said he is particularly concerned with ensuring that young families will continue to be able to settle on the North Shore. “(The affordability crisis), it makes it unaffordable for young families to either stay here or move here,” he said. “That's the next generation that we need to build the future of our region.”

This article has been updated to clarify the circumstances that led Schwartz to drop out of the 2018 Democratic primary.

Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that two Long Island congressional districts are considered competitive.

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