Fluke Boosts Seawright’s Republican Challenger

Lou Puliafito [Credit: Tony Correa Studios]
Lou Puliafito [Credit: Tony Correa Studios]

After a COVID-19-related filing issue may have disqualified three-term incumbent Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island) from the November ballot, Yorkville doorman Lou Puliafito (R) landed a real opportunity to pull an upset victory in the 76th District.

Puliafito spoke with New York County Politics to discuss his vision for the assembly seat he hopes to win.

“Let’s get an average person in there, who’s had an average life,” he said.

The seat’s 2018 Reform Party candidate and a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, Puliafito received an associate’s degree in applied sciences from LaGuardia Community College. After working in IT at companies as diverse as Merrill Lynch and New York Life for many years, he started to work the night shift as a doorman in an apartment building. 

Puliafito also spends three days a week babysitting his grandchildren, explaining that child rearing “is the most important job in the world.“ 

“I just wish that parents could stay home more often…but it’s not like that in this world,” he said. “But I’d like to get to a place where…every honest, hard-working person gets a decent life.”

Puliafito is self-aware that his egalitarian values distinguish him from more conventional Republicans, and cited historic accusations of socialism hurled towards Franklin Roosevelt to highlight the importance of compassionate leadership. He also cited inequalities in access to antibody testing as a problem he hopes to correct.

Despite challenging Seawright twice, he indicated he deeply respects her.

“I told her…’you’re doing a nice job…but we need more than a nice job,'” he recalled, citing her work in areas such as women’s rights. However, he felt she could do more to tackle more challenging issues, like housing and corruption in Albany. 

Puliafito added that being a Democrat in a solidly blue district, city, and state also compromised her ability to advocate for important policies that are not in step with the party line. He sees this issue as detrimental to the need for elected officials to empathize with all constituents.

On policy, he cites his family-oriented nature to make sure children and seniors, “the most vulnerable” New Yorkers are safe as a top priority. Other important issues include combatting wasteful spending in the state budget, providing aid to small businesses, tackling corruption, “fairer taxes”, support for the homeless, “affordable, diversified housing”, term limits, and statewide ranked choice voting.  

Still, Puliafito expects victory to be an uphill battle, particularly if Seawright coordinates a write-in campaign if removed from the ballot. He hopes to prove himself to his would-be constituents by showing that he is a pragmatist “hybrid” not bound to either party ideology, urging them to be open-minded.

“I like some of the things [the Republicans do]…and I like some of the things the Democrats do,” he said. “I love the social services and everything else, but they still have to be paid for, and we need common sense.” 

More from Around New York