By David M. Schwartz
Updated May 15, 2017 9:06 PM

Democrat Christine Pellegrino enters the final stretch before the May 23 special election in the 9th Assembly District with a money advantage over Conservative Thomas Gargiulo as Pellegrino and liberal allies attempt to pull an upset in the heavily Republican district.

Campaign finance reports filed Monday show Pellegrino, a teacher from West Islip, raised $31,000 over the past 12 days, spent $10,322 and had $40,000 cash in hand. County Executive Steve Bellone’s campaign committee contributed $4,400.

Gargiulo, a retired special education teacher who works part-time at a Babylon Town youth center, raised $15,000 and spent $13,000. His campaign had a closing balance of $9,200.

Top contributors included Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Northport), who gave $1,000, and the Islip Town Conservative Committee, $1,000.

Pellegrino’s report shows that a New York State United Teachers-backed independent expenditure group, Teachers for Christine, paid Red Horse Strategies $29,000 for campaign mailers. A union spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

The 9th District straddles the Nassau-Suffolk line. The winner of the special election will fill the vacancy left by Republican Joseph Saladino, now Oyster Bay Town supervisor.

While a Democrat has never held the seat, activists who have rallied against President Donald Trump’s presidency and established progressive groups see the low-turnout election as a chance for an upset.

“It confirms that this is a race people are excited about and interested in,” Pellegrino said.


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