D.C. Dems Boost Gershon
Last month, Perry Gershon, the Democratic Party’s candidate to represent New York’s First Congressional District, told The Star that he was confident that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s campaign arm for the House of Representatives, would soon add him to its Red to Blue list of top-tier candidates to which it provides funding and organizational support. “They’re aware of our race; they know it’s winnable,” he said at the time.
His confidence was well founded: The campaign committee has added Mr. Gershon, who will face Representative Lee Zeldin in the Nov. 6 election, to the program. The race is one of 82 among the 435 House races to hold the designation.
Representative Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, the committee’s chairman, said in a statement issued on Friday that Mr. Gershon “is bringing the same tireless work ethic and determination that made him successful in business to his campaign for New York’s First Congressional District, and because of that this race is competitive and winnable in November.”
Mr. Gershon, who bested four others in the Democratic primary election in June, has earned a place on the Red to Blue roster by “surpassing aggressive goals for grassroots engagement, local support, campaign organization, and fund-raising,” the statement said.
“The Red to Blue races are the priority races,” Mr. Gershon said on Tuesday. His campaign’s designation in the program, he said, “makes a statement that it’s a race they believe has a strong chance of winning over an incumbent Republican. What they’re saying here is that they see us having the potential vote support and energy and volunteerism, the campaign organization and fund-raising ability in order to defeat Zeldin.”
Chris Boyle, the communications director for Mr. Zeldin’s campaign, dismissed the move. “Being the 82nd pick of top targets by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is nothing to brag about,” he said in an email on Tuesday, noting former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s 59-to-41-percent loss in her 2016 challenge to Mr. Zeldin despite being chosen for the Red to Blue program.
“It’s worth noting that she was actually from the district, as opposed to Park Avenue Perry, who recently registered in our district just to run against Congressman Zeldin,” Mr. Boyle said. Mr. Gershon built a house in East Hampton in 1999 and became a year-round resident last year.
The Cook Political Report and the political analyst Scott Rasmussen place the First District in their “likely Republican” columns, and the website Real Clear Politics says the race “leans Republican.”
But Mr. Gershon has been upbeat throughout the campaign. A 76-percent increase in turnout over the Democratic congressional primary in 2016 means that Democrats are energized, he told The Star, while the candidates he bested have all pledged their support. Conditions were less favorable two years ago, he said, while President Trump, of whom Mr. Zeldin is a strong supporter, is divisive and unpopular, despite having won the First District by 12 points in 2016.
Mr. Zeldin, a former state senator, is seeking a third term. He defeated Representative Tim Bishop, who served six terms, in 2014.
Mr. Gershon’s campaign began airing television ads on Sept. 4, which he said are helping his name recognition in the district. From discussions with district residents, he said that “the big issues to people are health care, gun safety, the environment . . . and Zeldin’s absenteeism and lack of caring for the district, for people here. People feel like Lee has deserted them."