Former CNN political analyst John Avlon will be the Democratic candidate in this fall’s race for the East End’s First Congressional District seat, after taking home a decisive 70 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary Tuesday against Nancy Goroff, a chemist and former chair of the chemistry department at Stony Brook University.

The district, which includes all of the five East End Towns along with Huntington, Smithtown and the northern part of Brookhaven, is currently represented in Congress by Republican Representative Nick LaLota, a first-term incumbent from Amityville, just outside the district lines (members of Congress are not required to live in the district they represent).

Pictured Above: John Avlon and Nancy Goroff at a debate in March at the Jamesport Meeting House.

Ms. Goroff, who had run for this seat four years ago but was defeated by former Congressman Lee Zeldin, was an early frontrunner in the race when she announced her candidacy in January, but Mr. Avlon’s announcement of his run in March upended what had been anticipated to be a crowded field, with only Ms. Goroff willing to continue the challenge until Primary Day.

With a centrist message focusing on keeping Long Island affordable and protecting democracy, Mr. Avlon, a former speechwriter who lives in Sag Harbor, has energized voters throughout the brief campaign with the assertion that CD1 is a swing district, and could be returned to Democrats this year, when party control of Congress is very much in play.

“Because Democrats are the last big tent party that believes in bipartisanship, we need to reach out, with clarity and confidence, and get the real business going of winning this election and winning back Congress,” said Mr. Avlon in his acceptance speech Tuesday night.

“I said that we would build a broad, patriotic coalition to defend American democracy by defeating Donald Trump and by winning back the House,” he added. “We in Suffolk County are lucky to live in a swing district. Most Americans don’t. That’s a problem. That’s what’s lead to all this poisonous hyper-partisanship that has frustrated so many of us. But here, we can do something about it, because winning in a swing district requires the politics of addition, not division.”

“I would like to congratulate John Avlon for winning the Democratic primary in New York’s 1st Congressional District,” said Ms. Goroff in a statement later that evening. “It is imperative that all Democrats now come together to defeat Nick LaLota and flip this seat in November. John has built a broad coalition of elected officials, community leaders, and unions. He will be a common sense voice for the people of Suffolk in Washington and a vast improvement over LaLota who has proven to be far too extreme for this district. The people of Suffolk deserve a representative who will work hard and find solutions to the major problems facing our community, and that is John Avlon.”

In all, 27,137 registered Democrats voted in Tuesday’s primary, and in the early voting period leading up to the primary. The unofficial tally as of June 26 was 19,026 votes for Mr. Avlon, 8,053 for Ms. Goroff and 58 write-in votes.

The First Congressional District, which was represented by Democrat Tim Bishop for 12 years, was considered a swing district during that time, with Mr. Bishop often narrowly edging out his opponents during his tenure in office. A change in district lines in 2012 made it slightly more favorable for Republicans, paving the way for Republican Lee Zeldin’s time in office from 2014 to 2022, when he left to run for Governor of New York. Mr. Zeldin beat Ms. Goroff with nearly 55 percent of the vote in 2020.

In his first run for the seat, Mr. LaLota took home 55.5 percent of the vote against former Democratic Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming.

Though the Cook Political Report, which analyzes the political landscape across the country, considers the district “Likely Republican,” it notes that the race has “the potential to become engaged.”

Also in Tuesday’s primary, William J. Condon, a registered Conservative endorsed by the Riverhead Democratic Committee, won a Democratic Primary against former Republican Town Supervisor Sean M. Walter for this fall’s Riverhead Town Justice race. Mr. Condon got 61 percent of the vote. Mr. Walter, a registered Conservative, will be on the Republican and Conservative lines in this November’s election.

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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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