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Race for Congress heating up as committee deems 1st District ‘highly competitive’

09/23/2018 6:02 AM |

The race for New York’s 1st Congressional seat has been deemed “highly competitive,” according to a recent announcement by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Last Friday, they moved the race between incumbent Republican Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Democrat Perry Gershon to the top tier of targeted races in their “Red to Blue” program.

That means the group will back Mr. Gershon’s bid to unseat Mr. Zeldin with organizational and financial campaign support, staff resources, candidate training and strategic guidance.

In a statement, DCCC chair Ben Ray Luján said Mr. Gershon earned the spot on the list by surpassing “aggressive goals” for grassroots engagement, local support, campaign organization and fundraising.

Mr. Gershon says he’s raised $1.25 million since July 1, with an average donation of $85.

“Perry is bringing the same tireless work ethic and determination that made him successful in business to his campaign for New York’s 1st Congressional District, and because of that this race is competitive and winnable in November,” Mr. Luján said in a press release.

“Beyond his demonstrated ability to build a winning campaign infrastructure, Gershon has a strong record of service and message that connect with voters in New York’s 1st Congressional District and deep ties to the community he aims to serve,” the release continues.

It is one of 82 races nationally out of 435 to earn the designation.

“It is clear that surging support and momentum since last month has made the race on eastern Long Island among the most competitive in the country,” Mr. Gershon said in a statement Friday. “I’m thrilled to have the kind of grassroots support that’s attracted a national spotlight.”

The DCCC announcement, according to Chris Boyle, communications director for Zeldin for Congress, is “nothing to brag about.”

The NY-1 race was also designated a “Red to Blue” race in 2016. “The Red to Blue distinction in 2016 got [Anna Throne-Holst] a 17 point romping against our great congressman,” Mr. Boyle said.

Mr. Zeldin is seeking a third term on Capitol Hill. The Congressional seat has gone back and forth between parties for two decades.

The candidates were scheduled to meet jointly at the Peconic River Sportsman’s Club for a meet the candidate event Sept. 15. The event was abruptly canceled due to a “lack of interest,” organizers said.

Mr. Gershon has accused Mr. Zeldin of “ducking debates for months,” but Mr. Boyle said scheduling conflicts are to blame.

“Unlike past years when Congress was in session for votes until the end of September, this year congress is scheduled to be [in Washington] for votes until the middle of October,” he said in an email Tuesday. “The schedule will be jam packed with debates and meet the candidate forums from there on out.”

In a statement, Mr. Gershon said he awaits the debates.

“I say, bring it on,” he said.

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