Captain Cornicelli Takes on a GOP Never-Trumper - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Captain Cornicelli Takes on a GOP Never-Trumper


So the news from a few weeks back is that retired New York Army National Guard Captain Robert Cornicelli decided to primary Republican New York Rep. Andrew Garbarino for the latter’s Long Island Second District seat. The primary is set for June 28.

But there is, of course, more.

Here’s the headline from Cornicelli’s campaign in a release dated March 9, 2022:

RINO Garbarino Turns on Republicans, Blames Trump for Events of Jan 6

The release begins by saying this:

Andrew Garbarino made it only 3 days into his term in Congress before turning his back on President Trump, the Republican Party, and more importantly, his constituents.

In an official press release from his office on January 13th, 2021, Mr. Garbarino blamed then-President Donald J. Trump for the events that occurred at the Capitol a week earlier. Representing NY-02 – a district with more than a majority of the constituency supporting Donald Trump for reelection in 2020 – Garbarino not only failed to represent the interests of his constituents, but he also failed to represent the truth of the situation.

In other words, the Cornicelli–Garbarino fight is a microcosm in the vastly larger struggle between those challenging the GOP Establishment and those who are outside the Establishment — which is to say, in today’s political world, Trump supporters.

Cornicelli is indeed an impressive candidate for the task, as I learned when we crossed paths at this year’s CPAC in Orlando, Florida. A decorated veteran of not one but two branches of the military, he served for over 20 years in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army National Guard. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1986 after high school, serving four years as a Petty Officer Third Class on the USS Kitty Hawk. Coming back home to Long Island, he served another four years as part of the U.S. Navy Reserve.

In the style of the classic American story, after receiving his associate of arts degree in history and government in 1999, he went on to pursue his bachelor of arts (BA) in political science and international affairs at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.

And then came 9/11. Robert promptly finished his degree, graduated in 2002 — and reenlisted. By 2004, he was beginning his officer training in the New York Army National Guard. Soon enough he was deployed to a combat zone in Kuwait.

In 2007, he finished as not only an honor graduate but also the oldest one there. Upon completion of his training, Robert served as the platoon leader for the Delta Company. In 2012, he was deployed by the U.S. Army National Guard to Camp Arifjan, located in a combat zone in Kuwait as an S3 Plans Officer.

Then he sustained a service-related injury, which sent him down a new path that not only changed his life but also the lives of countless injured veterans. Seeing the difficult conditions faced by injured returning veterans, the captain used his own recovery time to found the Veteran Recovery Coalition, Inc., a 501(c)3, taking a leading role in the “fight to eradicate veteran homelessness on Long Island,” as his campaign website puts it.

Additionally, he used his recovery time to get “assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as a Staff Officer until 2015. In July of 2015, Staff Officer Cornicelli was promoted to Executive Officer to the Director at the DIA. He would serve in this capacity for two years before retiring and returning to private life on Long Island with his wife and children,” again according to his website.

Not for nothing has his service at the DIA resulted in the enthusiastic endorsement of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, whose own military career culminated as the director of the DIA and as the nation’s highest-serving military intelligence officer. Flynn said in his endorsement:

I’ve had the distinct honor of serving alongside some of America’s bravest men and women. Throughout my life I’ve met so many people who love this country, but few have a love that is as genuine and strong as that of my friend, CPT Robert M Cornicelli US Army (Ret). I met Robert seven years ago when we worked together at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Since then, I’ve had the privilege of following his career and I’m proud to be by his side as he steps up to serve his country again.

In short, Cornicelli is the epitome of an American patriot — and he was decidedly not happy to see that Garbarino — a Republican no less — was siding with Pelosi & Co., voting in favor of establishing the decidedly unpatriotic, bullying January 6 Committee. Said Cornicelli:

Garbarino has continuously strayed away from the conservative Republican values the people of his district embody. He’s aligned himself with Pelosi, AOC, and The Squad and the rest of the Radical Left. He voted with them on the Jan 6 Commission, H.R. 8, and again with the infrastructure bill.

Focus for a moment on the fact that Garbarino voted with Pelosi on the creation of the rigged, get-Trump Jan. 6 Committee.

As repeatedly documented by my American Spectator colleague Melissa Mackenzie, the committee is a corrupt mess. Whether collecting the private phone records of over 100 American private citizens or issuing subpoenas for political opponents who are sitting members of Congress, it is decidedly un-American. Melissa wrote of the committee that Garbarino voted for:

The subpoenas include all individuals on the subscriber’s account and everyone those people messaged or spoke to. The time frame the committee demands data on is far-reaching: any and all contact with the individual for two to three months prior to January 6 and all the way to January 31, 2021. This is tens of thousands of moms, children, clergy, reporters, and Republican and conservative influencers who were in touch with everyone from White House aides to prominent activists.

There is nothing, say again nothing, about this kind of thing that is even remotely conservative. All of it, every bit of it, is designed to abuse the legal system and the Constitution to target a former president the Left and the GOP Establishment detest.

One could go on. But the central, quite serious point here is that Captain Robert Cornicelli, decided patriot that he is, is not going to sit by quietly and let this kind of thing go on unchallenged.

The fact is that 2022 and beyond will be a battle between Establishment GOP candidates and their opponents. This is, as I have written before in this space, a very old battle that has been in play for decades. The latest round has Trump and his supporters as the Outsiders, much as once upon a time it was Ronald Reagan and his supporters.

But the important thing is that the Republican Party and the conservative movement have people like Captain Cornicelli who are willing to stand up for principle and put themselves out there as candidates.

Make no mistake. This is but one battle in a very long war.

And Captain Robert Cornicelli is exactly the kind of warrior to have leading this particular fight.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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