Published in the East Hampton Star – the July 10, 2018
To the Editor:
Offered less than 10 days into our district’s 133-day congressional race, The Star’s advice to local Democrats (“First District Dilemma”) is not only premature, but also misguided. As the 2016 presidential election (painfully) demonstrated, a race can turn around in the final weeks. But more important, the editorial ignores voter turnout — a key component to winning midterm elections in this swing district (which has been represented by Democrats for 40 of the last 57 years). There are already very encouraging signs that once again New York District 1 Democrats have the momentum and enthusiasm that generate winning turnouts in November. For example:
1. Democratic turnout in the June 26 primary was up 76 percent from the last primary.
2. In an online one-day fund-raiser for Perry Gershon, New York 1 grass-roots groups raised more than $50,000 in donations ranging from $20 to $2,700 (the maximum allowable).
3. Within days of the primary, hundreds of people had volunteered to work for Gershon, and more are signing up each day.
Furthermore, Zeldin is hardly behaving like a candidate who is certain of victory. Within hours after Gershon’s nomination, Zeldin started the preferred Trump tactic of name-calling rather than touting his own voting record. Why? Because Zeldin knows his policy positions are unpopular in this district: repealing Obamacare, opposing common-sense gun-safety measures, and supporting the dismantling of Environmental Protection Agency regulations, to name just a few. And it was hardly a show of confidence when Zeldin’s staff (in further echoes of Trump) forcibly removed local press from the campaign’s kickoff event, which was headlined by Sebastian Gorka. (Star readers unfamiliar with Gorka will learn much from Helen Rattray’s column, “Bad Company,” which appeared opposite the editorial referred to in this letter and which states, “Our congressman has become extraordinarily buddy-buddy with radicals and extremists of the ultra-right, bigoted wing of his party.”)
Although the editorial suggests that local Democrats should focus elsewhere, it is worth remembering that we, the voters of New York 1, are responsible for sending to Congress a right-wing extremist who allies himself with Trump, Gorka, and Bannon rather than the values upon which this nation was founded. In my view, we voters have a moral obligation to do all we can to support Perry Gershon and send Zeldin packing!