Stark Contrasts Drawn in NY-1 Congressional Race

Pictured Above: Congressman Lee Zeldin (l) has cosied up to the police while slamming challenger Nancy Goroff (r) for drawing comparisons between the price of riot gear and medical protective gear.

Just moments after former Stony Brook University Chemistry Department Chair Nancy Goroff announced July 9 that she had won the Democratic primary to run against Congressman Lee Zeldin this November, the Suffolk County Republican Party came out swinging, calling her a “radical scientist,” while Mr. Zeldin showed off a campaign arsenal that has been quietly building while Democrats duked it out amongst themselves.

Ms. Goroff, who displayed confidence in her ground game on the populous western end of the First Congressional District that helped her edge out her East End opponents in the primary, will have an uphill battle in the race against the pugnacious three-term Congressman, who has managed to hug tightly to President Donald Trump’s most hard-right ideology between election cycles while championing his bipartisan successes during election seasons.

Mr. Zeldin goes into the race with a formidable war chest, building on what his campaign calls a “monster” second quarter of fundraising, with the campaign bringing in $1.5 million in the second quarter of 2020, and a total of $4.8 million since this election cycle began. They had nearly $2.7 million in cash on hand as of mid-July.

Ms. Goroff, who raised nearly $2.7 million over the course of the primary (including a $1.15 million loan to herself), had just shy of $325,000 on hand at the end of the second quarter. She had outraised her primary opponents Perry Gershon and Bridget Fleming in part due to the loan she made to her campaign.

Her campaign announced Aug. 3 that it had brought in $620,000 in the three weeks since she was declared the Democratic nominee on July 9, raising, in total, more than $880,000 in general election funds.

Ms. Goroff, of East Setauket, has taught at Stony Brook for 23 years, and calls climate change one of her top issues. In her research lab, she says, “we have worked to create new organic semiconductors, and have studied how to use them to make solar energy more affordable and attainable.” She pledged in her campaign to “trust the facts, find solutions, and work with everyone with good ideas.”

The GOP’s attack strategy goes straight to the heart of what Ms. Goroff’s campaign has touted as her strong spot: her pledge to follow the data.

The day Ms. Goroff declared victory in the primary, Suffolk County Republicans launched an email and social media attack, with a banner ad that read “Radical Dr. No! Goroff Science Fiction,” pointing to her involvement on the national finance committee of J-Street, which calls itself “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.” The Suffolk GOP called J-Street a “radical anti-Isreal organization.” 

The social media post, as it appeared on Twitter:

Ms. Goroff also served on the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, devoted to climate change solutions, which the Suffolk Republicans called “a radical group pushing for policies like the $92 trillion Green New Deal.”

“Radical Nancy Goroff believes millions of dollars and dodging on issues will be the perfect concoction to trick the voters into believing she’s not a far-left liberal,” said Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman Jesse Garcia in an email to county GOP members. “Make no mistake, Goroff has spent years helping to concoct liberal policies and causes resulting in failed experiments like the jobs-crushing Green New Deal which would hoist trillions of dollars in new taxes on Long Islanders and other families around the country… Her radical policies and high tax agenda are more the stuff of science fiction than the prescription needed to get Long Island’s economy going again.”

The Suffolk GOP later shared a photo of Ms. Goroff at a Black Lives Matter rally holding a sign saying “Cost of Riot Gear for 1 Policeman Equals Cost of PPE for 31 Nurses.” The county GOP considered the photo to be evidence that Ms. Goroff supports defunding the police.

“Radical scientist Nancy Goroff and her extreme plans like defunding the police and the multi-trillion Green New Deal are completely out of touch with Long Islanders,” said Mr. Garcia.

Ms. Goroff seemed to anticipate the attack, and said she was expecting more in a July 20 email to supporters, pointing out that the conservative SuperPAC American Action Network (AAN) is planning to make a major investment in television advertising for Mr. Zeldin. AAN has been supporting Mr. Zeldin dating back to the 2014 campaign when he was first elected after defeating Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop. 

“We know this is just the beginning of the Republican attacks — and we know they’ll only get more absurd from here,” said Ms. Goroff in response to Mr. Garcia’s statements. “Using science and evidence to solve the number of problems facing our community is not radical — it’s necessary. But these Republican attacks are meant to distort reality, so we need to make sure voters throughout Suffolk County know the truth.”

Mr. Zeldin, who has the support of police unions here, chose a good-cop tactic in taking on Ms. Goroff the day she declared victory in the primary, not mentioning her by name but instead focusing on his bipartisan efforts.

“My entire life has and continues to be in service to America and Long Island, working on behalf of our neighborhoods so they are not forgotten and ensuring our country has everything it needs to fight the battles of a constantly changing world,” said Mr. Zeldin in a statement at the close of the Democratic primary. “I am willing to work with anyone when it comes to safeguarding the health, welfare and safety of our country. That is why the Lugar Center and Georgetown University currently rate me as the 12th Most Bipartisan Member of the House of Representatives.”

Mr. Zeldin highlighted his work to bring a new $2 billion electron ion collider to Brookhaven National Laboratory, and his work securing PPE for health care workers and help for businesses shuttered by the pandemic, as well as his tough foreign policy stance against Iran, North Korea and the Chinese Communist Party, as well as his steadfast support for Israel.

“America is at a crossroads, with many in our country pushing to ‘defund, ‘disband’, ‘dismantle’, or ‘abolish’ our police departments, institute a federal government takeover of our healthcare system, implement a disastrously flawed ‘Green New Deal’, and raise our taxes the likes of which we’ve never seen. We can’t let that happen,” he added. “Throughout my 17 years of service in our nation’s military, I’ve witnessed firsthand the dedication of so many selfless individuals who have put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms – we need more of that.”

Ms. Goroff’s campaign wasn’t buying Mr. Zeldin’s bipartisanship.

 “The fact is, Lee Zeldin is a radical right-wing Republican. He’s right up there with Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, and Elise Stefanik, as one of the most obnoxious and hyper-partisan GOP officials,”  she said in a message to her supporters. “Lee Zeldin is a Trump sycophant.”

— BY

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, 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 editor@eastendbeacon.com

3 thoughts on “Stark Contrasts Drawn in NY-1 Congressional Race

  • August 6, 2020 at 12:48 pm
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    It would be really nice if our congressman wore a mask as well as the Sargent. Not for their protection, but for ours. We are required to wear a mask when we go to the dump; but not our Police Professionals or our elected officials.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2020 at 12:58 pm
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    This article is a campaign ad for Zeldin. 80% of it repeats his attacks on Goroff without correction: e.g., how could Goroff have “spent years concocting failed experiments” that haven’t even been tried yet, much less failed? You’d never know that from this piece. The Green New Deal simply says we need to fight the existential threat of climate catastrophe by creating good living wage jobs and helping those communities most affected by climate change get more resilient against it with clean energy and energy efficiency retrofits. “Defunding” the police has happened in one community, Camden NJ, which turned over part of the police budget to hiring social workers and violence de-escalators. It worked brilliantly. Let’s have some equal time for Ms. Goroff (a moderate Democrat, by the way) to articulate her vision.

    Reply
    • August 9, 2020 at 11:28 pm
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      Francesca, it is important for Ms. Goroff’s backers to understand what her opposition is saying about her, and the resources they have at their disposal. She seems quite capable of defending herself in her statements in the article.

      Reply

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