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Congressional candidates to face off in debate

10/16/2018 5:51 AM |

The two candidates vying to represent New York’s 1st Congressional District will face off in a debate hosted by the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce next week.

Incumbent Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is running for his third term against Democrat Perry Gershon, a businessman.

The debate is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. at the Vineyards at Aquebogue.

A New York Times and Siena College poll conducted Oct. 4-8 shows Mr. Zeldin leading in the race by eight points.

Pollsters made 27,178 phone calls and spoke with 502 constituents within the district, which encompasses the five East End towns, all of Brookhaven Town and some of Smithtown.

Of those, 49 percent said they would cast a vote for Mr. Zeldin; 41 percent indicated they would vote for Gershon. Ten percent of voters in the district reported being undecided about how they will vote.

Based on the interviews, the poll shows Mr. Zeldin is viewed favorably by 48 percent and unfavorably by 35 percent of respondents while Mr. Gershon is viewed favorably by 29 percent and unfavorably by 27 percent of those who took the survey.

Forty-four percent told the New York Times they were unfamiliar with Mr. Gershon, compared to 17 percent who are unfamiliar with Mr. Zeldin.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.6 points.

Mr. Zeldin’s campaign team said the poll comes as no surprise. “[The poll] reflects the continued, widespread support [Mr. Zeldin] has in every corner of this district,” said Chris Boyle, communications director for the Zeldin campaign.

“This is also the result of hundreds of volunteers and supporters on the ground walking door to door, making phone calls and requesting lawn signs to help get the message out,” Mr. Boyle said.

President Trump tweeted support for Mr. Zeldin in late September, saying the incumbent has his “complete and total endorsement.”

“Congressman Lee Zeldin is doing a fantastic job in D.C. Tough and smart, he loves our country and will always be there to do the right thing,” the president said.

A separate poll completed Oct. 8-10 by D.C.-based GBA Strategies shows Mr. Zeldin ahead by just three points, with 49.5 percent to Mr. Gershon’s 46.2 percent.

Their margin of error is reported to be plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

“Every indication is that there’s a great grassroots surge breaking Perry’s way. Other polls, including one completed after the Times poll, show NY-1 in a statistical dead heat,” said Alexandra Dakich, press secretary for Mr. Gershon’s campaign. “We’ve knocked on 150,000 doors. It all leads to tremendous confidence Perry will win the only poll that matters, on Election Day.”

In September, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee designated the NY-1 race as part of its “Red to Blue” program, which identifies high-priority campaigns across the country.

NY-1 has historically been a battleground district, flipping between parties. Mr. Zeldin won his second term in 2016 by 16 points against former Southampton Town supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

Other polling organizations, including the Cook Political Report, FiveThirtyEight and Center for Politics show the district as “likely” to vote for a Republican candidate.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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