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Suffolk Closeup: Election 2020 — it’s on

With Election 2019 past and the blizzard of campaign signs that lined Suffolk County roadways mostly gone — thankfully — it’s Election 2020 that’s coming. The announcement last week by incumbent Peter King (R-Seaford) that he would not run for reelection in the 2nd Congressional District., which includes the southwest portion of Suffolk, heralds the election ahead.

So does the political scramble underway in the lst C.D., which covers most of Suffolk, the five East End towns, all of Brookhaven, most of Smithtown and a slice of Islip.

Democrat Perry Gershon who ran against the Republican incumbent, Lee Zeldin, two years ago narrowly lost, receiving 47.4% of the vote to Mr. Zeldin’s 51.5% (he beat Mr. Zeldin on Shelter Island). This election is now emulating what Otis Pike did decades ago. Democrat Pike, of Riverhead, first ran against incumbent Stuyvesant Wainwright of Wainscott in 1958 and lost. But he dealt with his defeat with intense activity over the next two years. He spoke at every venue which would have him, shook plenty of hands, and beat Mr. Wainwright in 1960, holding the seat until he retired in 1979.

Mr. Gershon, from East Hampton, with a background in business, was noting recently how he’s been going to many “fire department barbecues and street fairs and shaking hands with and engaging with many voters and speaking about the issues” while stressing “listening.”

“And I’m completely convinced that the number one problem here,” he said, “is that it’s too expensive to live here, and government needs to intervene by lowering the federal tax burden, eliminating the restrictions on the SALT [state and local tax] deductions and creating more jobs and better paying jobs and making health care more affordable and accessible.”

Also, “we must do something to relieve the student debt burden to keep our young people here.”
He is embarked on what he calls a “Restore American Values Tour: 10 Town Halls in 10 Months.”

The first was in September at the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Library, the next month it was Smithtown, this month it’s Stony Brook. “The goal is to be everywhere, he said, “in all parts of the district.”

Mr. Gershon is for President’s Trump’s impeachment. “Our country is founded on the rule of law,” he said. “President Trump is making a mockery of the norms and structures that bind us and flaunting his perceived right to break the law. It is the constitutional duty of Congress to stop him and his chief enablers.”

Also seeking the Democratic candidacy to challenge Mr. Zeldin is Nancy Goroff of Stony Brook, who has been chair of the Chemistry Department at Stony Brook University.

“As a scientist, I believe in facts,” Ms. Goroff said in announcing her candidacy. “And the fact is Washington is hurting Suffolk families. I’m running for Congress to use my experience as a scientist to combat global warming, make health care affordable, protect a woman’s right to choose and end the gun violence epidemic.”

Ms. Goroff has the endorsement of Suffolk Legislators Kara Hahn and Sarah Anker as well as 314 Action, a group working to elect Democratic scientists, and also EMILY’s List, which supports Democratic women running for public office.

Regarding Mr. Trump, she says: “If the allegations are true, Donald Trump should be removed from office — and an impeachment inquiry is the proper way to determine the truth.”

Mr. Trump is working hard to get re-elected president in 2020, and the names of all candidates for the House of Representatives would be on the ballot with him.

Will this hurt or help Mr. Zeldin in the lst C.D.?

Mr. Zeldin has been personally and politically close to Mr. Trump. As a recent Newsday headline stated: “Zeldin emerges as a major supporter of Trump in impeachment inquiry.”

Mr. Zeldin, an attorney from Shirley, has tweeted that the impeachment inquiry now happening “has produced NOTHING to impeach POTUS … While Dems run from the MANY gross flaws of how this circus is run. I welcome a debate on just how massively screwed up their clown show is on the SUBSTANCE.”

The campaign website of the three-term incumbent, who stresses his military background, says: “Since entering Congress in 2015, Lee has pursued an aggressive agenda in Washington, D.C., on top local, domestic and international issues; quickly becoming one of the nation’s leading proponents for a stronger, more effective foreign policy that defeats ISIS and other terrorist threats, secures our homeland and treats our nation’s friends as our friends, and our adversaries as our adversaries. On the national level, Lee is fighting every day in Washington to help grow our economy and create more good-paying private sector jobs, strengthen our national security, fight for our veterans, improve health care and education in America, repair our local infrastructure and safeguard our environment.”