Perry Gershon, who lost a close election to Representative Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in the 1st Congressional District race last November, but scored major gains for Democrats, announced that he’ll run again in 2020.
“I want to get started,” Mr. Gershon said in an interview with The Suffolk Times. “I think we are really off the charts in terms of Democratic excitement … We did a lot right in the race. A lot of people got motivated, and volunteerism was at an all-time high. I want to recapture that energy before it goes away.”
Voters in the district re-elected Mr. Zeldin, a Republican, to a third term in Congress in a hotly contested midterm race that, overall, saw the House of Representatives flip to Democratic control in record turnout nationwide.
On election night, Mr. Zeldin secured approximately 53 percent of the vote — a much closer race than the 16-point win he posted in 2016. Mr. Gershon tallied 46 percent, but within his numbers were major gains for Democrats — spikes that boost his confidence for another race against Mr. Zeldin.
In many ways, there was a silver lining in Mr. Gershon’s loss. After all ballots were counted, he won Southold, a traditionally Republican stronghold, with 5,622 votes to Mr. Zeldin’s 5,292.
Mr. Gershon also won his hometown of East Hampton, along with Shelter Island and Southampton. He lost Riverhead, Brookhaven and the part of Smithtown that is in the district.
“Not winning Riverhead was costly,” Mr. Gershon said. “To win this time, we need to get more votes out of Brookhaven. And I need to do better in Smithtown.”
Mr. Gershon lost that town by 7,000 votes.
“People liked my story,” he said. “They liked the story of an outsider who wasn’t part of the political establishment, who was for Long Island issues such as the environment and health care.”
Mr. Gershon said he spent $5 million on the campaign, including a primary against four other Democrats. Of that, he said $2 million was his own money.
He said he hopes there will not be a primary challenger, but has heard of at least one other person interested in running.