For Perry Gershon, Bridget Fleming, and Nancy Goroff, the focus has turned from early COVID-19 worry to their June 23 Democratic primary race for the First Congressional District.
The stakes are high, with a chance to unseat Congressman Lee Zeldin, one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal allies. Yet much is out of their control — Election Day may change, or it may become an all-mail event.
Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ruled school board elections must be done entirely by mail, so he may opt to cancel all walk-in voting.
The novel coronavirus is a big part of the campaign, acknowledged Mark Guarnaccia, Fleming’s campaign manager.
“We’re encouraging people to vote absentee,” he said, adding that although the race against Zeldin was too far away to speculate, “We believe we have the best candidate.”
Fleming, currently the incumbent Suffolk County legislator, is confident in her changes regardless of how that vote is tallied, because of the job she’s done and her name recognition.
Gershon, a Manhattan-based businessman with a home in East Hampton, nearly beat Zeldin two years ago. But with the pandemic being of uppermost importance in these trying times, he said, “Look what happened in Wisconsin. They opened up the voting and people got sick again.”
The general election may hinge on COVID-19, too. It may end up even being based on if people are happy with the way Trump handled the country during the crisis. If so, Zeldin is likely to ride his coattails, the candidates acknowledge.
“I expect it to be a referendum on Trump,” Gershon said. The president’s penchant for misstating facts will be his undoing, he opined.
Goroff has been a professor at Stony Brook University for two decades, most recently as the chair of the chemistry department.
“Zeldin has his Trump allies and big corporate donors funding his re-election, but I’m relying on our grassroots network,” she said via email. “Now more than ever, it’s clear that we need scientists leading in Washington.”