Mike Sapraicone wants to be New York’s first Republican senator in decades. Here’s what he says he stands for.

Mike Sapricone
Mike Sapricone, a Republican challenging US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for her seat.
Photo courtesy of Mike Sapricone campaign

As Republicans have found recent electoral success in New York, the party is once again trying to capture statewide office, this time with Mike Sapraicone’s challenge to US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Sapraicone, a native of Richmond Hill, Queens, is a political newcomer. He served in the NYPD for two decades, retiring in 2000 as a detective, according to his campaign website. Since leaving the department, he founded and operated a private security firm — Squad Security — that operates globally and employs 600 current and retired law enforcement personnel.

Sapraicone, who is backed by the New York GOP, said he is running for Senate because he believes New York’s ruling Democrats have “lacked leadership.” He charged that Gillibrand has been an absentee lawmaker for many years.

“It seems what everybody is asking me is like, ‘where is Senator Gillibrand?’” Sapraicone said. “She’s been a senator here for over 15 years, I believe. But nobody really sees her … If you were to put her in a lineup, could you even pick her out of a lineup? So some people say they couldn’t.”

Sapraicone is running unopposed in the Republican primary after his two opponents were knocked off of the ballot. If he wins in November, he would be the first Republican New York has sent to Washington’s upper chamber since Al D’Amato, who lost his seat to current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in 1998.

Endorsed by Trump

Although Sapraicone is a Republican, he is pitching himself as a moderate who can work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Even so, he has been endorsed by Donald Trump — and has thrown his support in return behind the former president, who has been criminally indicted four times and is currently on trial for one of those cases in New York.

Sapraicone said he sees a path to victory for himself in the heavilly Democratic Empire state, where Republicans flipped five House seats and Lee Zeldin came within a few points of Gov. Kathy Hochul in 2022.

“I think there’s a great path,” he said. “I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think this was a winnable thing.”

While Sapraicone has virtually no political experience, he believes his time as a police officer has prepared him to be an effective lawmaker.

“Just like you’re a cop, you’re a psychiatrist, psychologist, you’re a doctor, you’re a medic, you kind of do everything,” Sapraicone said. “And I think in politics, you need to be able to serve everybody, not just the affiliation you have with a party.”

Crime and public safety his main pitches

Sapraicone’s time in the NYPD has also informed his campaign’s platform, which has centered the issues of crime and public safety. 

Like most Republicans, Sapraicone is no fan of the state legislature’s move to reform New York’s bail laws in 2019 — although those changes have twice undergone targeted rollbacks. He argues the reforms have led to an increase in crime in New York, but elected officials and advocates in favor of criminal justice reform insist there is no evidence that crime has spiked because of the changes.

Sapraicone suggested that he would advocate for withholding federal funding from states and municipalities he deems to have too lenient criminal justice policies. He added the same tactic could be applied to cities with sanctuary status, like New York City, which have laws in place that prevent local law enforcement entities from working with federal immigration authorities.

Sapraicone said that Hochul made a similar threat against school districts that did not impose mask mandates during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The federal government could do the same thing,” Sapraicone said. “‘Governor, if  you’re not going by the rules and you’re causing this problem and working on bail reform or working on being a sanctuary city where your people cannot even afford to go because they’re bringing in so many migrants because it’s okay with you, than we should hold back some federal funding.'”

On the subject of immigration more broadly, Sapraicone also took the Republican Party line stance of calling for closing the US’s southern border with Mexico.

“We need to clean house,” he said. “We need to shut the border down completely. start vetting people and making sure the right people are coming in and then with that plan, begin to let people come in.”

The massive influx of migrants over the southern border in recent years has hit New York City particularly hard, with nearly 200,000 newcomers arriving in the five boroughs since last year. In response to the influx, Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have consistently called on the federal government to grant work authorization to new arrivals. But Sapraicone said that status should only be awarded to those who immigrate to the US legally.

When it comes to abortion, Sapraicone said he believes New York’s law, which allows abortions up until the 24th week after fertilization, are too liberal. But he said he does not support a national abortion ban and instead thinks restrictions on terminating pregnancies should be decided by individual states, which is the standard established by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022.

“I think it’s in the right hands with the states and that’s kind of out of my control,” Sapraicone said. “And people are going to say ‘well, aren’t you going to be a United States senator for New York, how is it not your issue?’ But people don’t understand, that’s a state issue.”