(The Center Square) – The race for New York’s First Congressional District seat features U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Shirley Republican who seeks a fourth term in Washington, going up against Democratic candidate Nancy Goroff, a political newcomer and chemistry professor from East Setauket.
The district encompasses the eastern half of Long Island and consists of the eastern and central regions of Suffolk County. Suffolk County is a pivot county that went for Donald Trump and the GOP in the 2016 presidential election after backing Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
The race appears to be a tight contest coming into the final three weeks of the campaign. The Cook Political Report rates it as a “lean Republican” race, but the outcome could be influenced by what happens at the top of the ticket.
On Tuesday, per fivethirtyeight.com, GQR Research released the results of a district survey conducted for 314 Action Fund, a science-focused political action committee that backs Goroff in race. That poll shows Zeldin holding a slight lead, 49 percent to 48 percent, but it also shows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden leading Trump 49 percent to 45 percent. Both races are within the survey’s 4.9 percent margin of error.
The issues driving the race include law enforcement reform, the environment and the economy.
On law enforcement, Goroff posts on her campaign website that she opposes efforts to “defund the police,” adding that law enforcement and social service agencies must get the resources they need to protect their communities.
However, she does support ending qualified immunity for police officers, which she said needs to happen through Congress.
Zeldin said on Long Island News 12’s Power & Politics that law enforcement officers need “to hold their own accountable,” but almost every officer is a hero that shouldn’t be villainized.
“I also believe that you should have the best possible training,” the congressman said. “The best possible equipment, supplies, resources should be given to our law enforcement. The tools to do their job safely and effectively.”
Zeldin opposes the Green New Deal, saying the tax increases and bureaucracy needed to support it would cripple Long Island’s economy. Instead, he has touted his efforts to work across the aisle on what he calls responsible efforts to protect the environment. That includes bolstering Long Island’s maritime infrastructure and fighting efforts to have Connecticut waste dumped into Long Island Sound.
Goroff leans heavily on her scientific background. In an interview with The East End Beacon, she called climate change “a pandemic in slow motion,” noting it can significantly alter our way of life.
“We need to actively deploy existing technology to reduce our carbon footprint,” she said. “The global carbon budget is important. We need to develop new, scalable technology, and get moving as quickly as possible.”
On the economy, both have called on the federal government to provide funding to state and local governments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an issue that’s especially of interest in New York as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the state government and municipalities need $59 billion in relief.
Goroff on Power & Politics called out Zeldin for not supporting the Heroes Act 2.0, which the House passed earlier this month. She also criticized him for supporting Trump.
“Here we are in a pandemic, where he has sided with a president who is both corrupt and inept instead of actually working to solve the problems and standing up to that president,” she said.
Zeldin said that bill was a lost cause because it included extraneous “poison pills” unrelated to COVID relief, such as cashless bail and voting reforms he didn’t favor.
“What we should do is not make it an ideological wish list of items in many respects totally unrelated to coronavirus response, but let's just get to a compromise, a deal,” Zeldin said.