Nancy Goroff, the chairwoman of the chemistry department at Stony Brook University, has won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Lee Zeldin for his 1st Congressional District House seat this November following a tight race in the Democratic primary last week.
Dr. Goroff edged second-time candidate Perry Gershon by 661 votes and beat Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming by a commanding 4,243-vote margin, according to the Sufffolk County Board of Elections.
Dr. Goroff received 17,957 votes, or 36.1 percent of the total, while Mr. Gershon received 17,296 votes or 34.8 percent, the BOE reported. Ms. Fleming received 13,714 votes, or 27.6 percent of the vote, while Gregory-David Fischer received 775 votes or 1.6 percent.
It would appear that Ms. Fleming, who entered the race last fall, much later than the other two candidates, served as a foil to Mr. Gershon’s effort to win the nomination for the second-straight time. Mr. Gershon lost to Mr. Zeldin by 4 percentage points in 2018, and made it clear by mounting an almost continuous campaign that he wanted a second shot at the incumbent.
But Ms. Fleming was the top vote getter in Southampton and East Hampton towns, where she received 2,586 and 1,948 votes, respectively, easily outpacing Mr. Gershon, who received 1,549 and 906 votes, respectively. Dr. Goroff trailed both candidates, receiving only 1,203 votes in Southampton and 604 in East Hampton.
The majority of voters cast their ballots through the mail this year, which was encouraged by New York State as one way to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic also cast a pall over the campaign as face-to-face encounters, whether they be candidate forums or door-to-door canvassing, came to an abrupt end in early March as the virus spread across the state.
“I am honored to have earned the support of thousands of Democratic voters across New York’s 1st District, and to have earned the Democratic nomination to take on Lee Zeldin,”
Dr. Goroff said in a release. “I got into this race last July because as a scientist, leader at Stony Brook University, and Suffolk County mom, I could not sit idly by as Zeldin consistently chooses hyper-partisan spin over science and over the needs of our community. Now more than ever, we need a change in leadership.”
With the nomination in hand, Dr. Goroff said she was prepared to focus on Mr. Zeldin. “The challenge is making sure people really know who he is and what his record is,” she said. “He is always extreme in his voting while presenting a veneer of moderation and bipartisanship.”
She cited as an example his sponsorship of a failed House measure that would have forced New York and other states that have strict gun laws to allow visitors from other states with less stringent laws to carry concealed weapons in their states. “Whenever I mentioned that, you could hear audible gasps” whether at an in-person event or a Zoom gathering, Dr. Goroff said.
She also listed his votes against the Heroes Act, a House measure that would have provided federal aid to states, schools, and hospitals that were hit hard by the pandemic and a measure that would have restored state and local tax deductions to federal income taxes, as well as his opposition to funding for Planned Parenthood and his low standing with the League of Conservation Voters as examples of how he is out of touch with district voters.
“He has tied himself so tightly to Trump that instead of being here attending to the needs of our district, he has been on Fox News or in Tulsa not wearing a mask,” she said.
Dr. Goroff’s victory caught the attention of Mr. Zeldin, who issued his own press release, touting his own rating from the Lugar Center and Georgetown University as the 12th most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives.
“I will continue a laser focus on our economy, cutting taxes and growing jobs, increasing healthcare access and affordability, ensuring Long Islanders have clean air and clean water, protecting America’s safety and security at home and abroad, supporting our first responders and veterans, and stopping radical policies and other costly pursuits that would harm the families of Long Island,” he said in a release.
And Dr. Goroff said the Suffolk County Republican Committee had already launched a fund-raiser labeling her “a radical doctor,” a charge she described as “oxymoronic.”
Ahearn Wins State Senate Race
In the Democratic primary for the 1st District State Senate seat, where longtime Republican incumbent Kenneth P. LaValle announced his retirement earlier this year, Laura Ahearn, the executive director of the nonprofit Crime Victims Center, bested four other candidates for the opportunity to take on Republican 2nd District State Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo in the November general election.
According to the BOE, Ms. Ahearn received a total of 8,427 votes, or 34.7 percent, to hold off Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, who received 6,569, or 26.7 percent. Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni received 5,822 votes, or 23.7 percent; Skyler Johnson, a Suffolk County Community College student, received 2,827 votes, or 11.5 percent; and Nora Higgins, a union official, received 952 votes, or 3.9 percent.
Ms. Ahearn praised her campaign for its hard work and said her opponents had run excellent campaigns as well.
“I have been well known in Suffolk County for the past 25 years for working with everybody, regardless of party,” she said. “Voters wanted an individual who was moderate and someone who was not already an elected official.”
She said she was confident she could defeat Mr. Palumbo in the general election. “We are absolutely going to take back a seat that has not been Democratic in over 100 years,” she said.