Perry Gershon at a League of Women Voters of the Hamptons debate in late May.
Perry Gershon at a League of Women Voters of the Hamptons debate in late May.

Perry Gershon, a real estate investor from East Hampton, has won the Democratic primary to run against Lee Zeldin for Congress this fall.

Mr. Gershon took home 35.5 percent of the vote in the June 26 primary, a total of 7226 votes, in a crowded field of five candidates. 

“Tonight’s victory shows Suffolk County is energized and ready for change,” said Mr. Gershon after he was declared the winner. “A year ago, I decided to run for Congress because I was fed up with career politicians, like our own Congressman, Lee Zeldin, who put special interests and partisan politics ahead of people.”

“It’s outrageous that Congressman Zeldin and Congressional Republicans are leading the effort to take away health care from millions of Americans, putting the interests of the corporate gun lobby ahead of the safety of our children, denying the existence of climate change—or worse, supporting policies that accelerate it, and raising taxes on the middle class while giving tax breaks to special interests and adding trillions to our national debt,” he added.

Congressman Lee Zeldin at a New York League of Conservation Voters forum in Riverhead this fall.

Mr. Zeldin was quick to take the gloves off. Zeldin for Congress a disgusted and lengthy “congratulations” to his opponent at 9:58 Tuesday evening.

“Congrats to Park Avenue Perry on buying his way into a general election. It’s amazing that the Democratic Party was so desperate that they nominated a liberal Manhattan Democrat who has never even voted here in a November election for Congress,” said Mr. Zeldin in his statement. “After a primary where he continuously preached about his desire to make Nancy Pelosi the next Speaker of the House, made the disgusting comparison of President Trump’s rallies to Hitler rallies, pathologically lied about Congressman Zeldin’s policy positions, defended high taxes, and took many other out of touch, far left positions, Park Avenue Perry proved how unrepresentative to us he would be as a representative. Having just changed his residency into the district from Manhattan this past year, he has more in common with radicals like Bill DeBlasio and Nancy Pelosi than the residents of our Congressional District.”

“The east end of Long Island is not NYC or San Francisco and to think otherwise proves just how out of touch Park Avenue Perry really is. Our district will not elect someone who supports sanctuary cities and protects violent members of MS-13 from being deported and we certainly will not allow Nancy Pelosi to once again become Speaker of the House,” he added. “With the limited number of votes Park Avenue Perry received today to get the Democratic Party nomination, voters were clearly unimpressed and unmotivated by the best options Democratic money can buy. The few Democrats who did decide to vote chose someone who sees this district as one that can be purchased. Park Avenue Perry will learn the rest of that lesson the hard way in November.”

In all, 20,331 of the 154,556 registered Democratic Voters in the First Congressional District took part in the primary, just 13.15 percent of registered voters. In the 2016 Democratic Congressional Primary between Anna Throne-Holst and Dave Calone, just 12,641 voters cast ballots.

Mr. Gershon was followed closely by former Suffolk County Legislatur Kate Browning, who lives not far from Mr. Zeldin and pledged during the campaign that she could reach voters in the densely populated western part of the district.

Ms. Browning took home 30.26 percent of the vote, or 6,159 votes.

Former Suffolk County Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher, who built her campaign on her progressive ideology and support for immigrants, took home 16.28 percent of the vote, or 3314 votes, while another progressive candidate, David Pechefsky, took home 11.91 percent, or 2,425 votes.

Former Brookhaven National Laboratory physicist Elaine DiMasi, who pledged to bring science and evidence-based policies to Washington, won 5.93 percent of the vote, or 1,207 votes.

Perry Gershon
Perry Gershon at the March for Science in Riverhead this spring.

“I’m not a typical politician,” said Mr. Gershon. “But if we keep sending the same old career politicians to Washington, nothing is going to change. It’s time for a new approach—someone who knows what it’s like to meet a payroll and balance a budget.”

“Suffolk County needs a strong voice to create more good paying Long Island jobs, protect Planned Parenthood and women’s health care rights, invest in our infrastructure, stand up for those with preexisting conditions and work to make health care and prescription drugs affordable, take on student debt and put higher education within reach for everyone, and ensure that Medicare and Social Security is protected for the seniors who have paid into it and earned it for a lifetime of work,” he added.

“Our grassroots campaign is just getting started, tomorrow the hard work begins,”he added. “It’s going to take everyone coming together to defeat Congressman Zeldin in November to put a check on President Trump’s reckless and divisive agenda that’s hurting Long Islanders.”

Mr. Zeldin, however, seemed confident he would prevail against his opponent.

“Regardless of the resistance from liberal obstructionists who oppose everything and anything, Congressman Zeldin continues to deliver one win after another for his constituents: Passing his Adult Day Health Care bill into law this year to help severely disabled veterans, leading the effort to eradicate MS-13, combating the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic, working to secure our borders, bringing home record funding for our local environment, and pursuing key foreign policy wins abroad,” he said in his statement.. “As an extremely accessible Representative who any constituent has the ability to meet with, Congressman Zeldin also successfully resolved over 8,500 constituent cases in favor of NY-1 residents.”

“The reality is that our national economy is going great. Our national security is doing well. ISIS is nearly wiped off of the map. MS-13 is being defeated. Unemployment is setting historic lows. Our markets are hitting historic highs. Our borders are also being better secured. This is all great for anyone who is rooting for America’s success and Congressman Zeldin’s voice is always being heard in the middle of all of this. Lee Zeldin calls it as he sees it and has proven he is willing to work with absolutely anyone to move our community, state, and nation forward.”

“When local fishermen, boaters and small business owners recently reached out to Lee Zeldin concerned about navigation conditions in Moriches Inlet, we all witnessed how effective our Congressman is with his immediate and successful advocacy to secure an emergency dredge. Lee Zeldin is a workhorse who delivers positive results again and again and again,” he added. “Congressman Zeldin consistently delivers for the Long Islanders he represents. We all experienced it up close and personal when he led the successful effort to eliminate the MTA Payroll Tax for 80 percent of employers, eliminated the Saltwater Fishing License Fee, cosponsored the nation’s strongest property tax cap, reduced middle income tax rates to the lowest level in 60 years, created the PFC Joseph Dwyer Program for veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury and authored the law that bans protests at military burials.”

“Congressman Zeldin is committed to continue pursuing his New Era of American Strength agenda to protect America’s security at home and abroad, help grow our economy, support our veterans and first responders, improve healthcare and the quality of education, repair our nation’s infrastructure and safeguard our environment,” he added. “He looks forward to building upon his work for Long Island and our nation in his third term.


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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