Scientist Nancy Goroff wins Democratic primary, will challenge Lee Zeldin in November

Scientist Nancy Goroff has won the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District and will challenge incumbent Republican Lee Zeldin in November’s election, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

Ms. Goroff, 52, of Stony Brook narrowly won the four-way race as the final absentee ballots were counted Thursday, bringing the primary election to a close 16 days after in-person voting was held June 23.

Ms. Goroff secured 12,899 absentee votes and defeated East Hampton businessman Perry Gershon, who lost the 2018 Congressional election against Mr. Zeldin, and Legislator Bridget Fleming.

The final totals including both the June 23 ballots and absentees showed Ms. Goroff with 17,905 votes. Mr. Gershon finished second with 17,275 votes and Ms. Fleming tallied 13,696. Greg Fischer of Calverton had 773 votes.

Ms. Goroff said in a statement that she was “honored to have earned the support of thousands of Democratic voters across New York’s 1st District.”

She congratulated Mr. Gershon and Ms. Fleming for their campaigns and said both candidates were “smart, talented and good-hearted leaders who inspired thousands through their efforts.”

She said Mr. Zeldin, who is seeking a fourth term, has let down the 1st District residents by voting and advocating against health care, environment and safety.

“And now, as Suffolk County families figure out how to manage the all-encompassing health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zeldin has once again shown that he is more interested in defending President Trump’s political interests than the people he has been elected to represent,” she said.

The results are still unofficial, according to Democratic Commissioner Anita Katz. Some challenges remain that Board of Elections commissioners must rule on, but will not change the results, she said.

Mr. Gershon held a slim 164-vote lead over Ms. Goroff at the end of the in-person voting. The three top candidates all expressed confidence they could win when the 36,500 absentee ballots were counted. On Monday, Ms. Fleming’s campaign said she had a slim lead. By Wednesday, Ms. Goroff said she still trailed by a small margin behind Mr. Gershon, but added “the remaining votes come from parts of the district where our campaign runs strongest.”

Mr. Gershon said in a Tweet Thursday that he congratulated Ms. Goroff and said he would remain visible to work with her on the issues.

“Reflecting back on this whole experience, I must say that it was truly remarkable,” he wrote. “I loved meeting with thousands of people over the last few years and discussing how we can make things better for our families here in Suffolk.”

He said he believes Democrats are ready to take on Mr. Zeldin.

“We deserve a representative who will fight for Long Islanders, instead of fighting for a corrupt president who he is beholden to,” Mr. Gershon wrote.

Ms. Fleming said in a statement that she was proud of the campaign and she thanked her supporters and volunteers. She said they put together a “remarkable grassroots campaign in a very short amount of time.”

“I have called Nancy Goroff to congratulate her and I look forward to supporting her as the Democratic nominee in the November election against our common foe Lee Zeldin — an absentee Congressman who cares more about Donald Trump’s adoration than he does the people of the First Congressional District,” Ms. Fleming said.

In July 2019, Ms. Goroff announced her bid to run for Congress, saying she had spent the prior 22 years teaching at Stony Brook University and hoped “use my experience as a scientist to combat global warming, make health care affordable, protect a woman’s right to choose, and end the gun violence epidemic.”

Democratic Senate Candidate Laura Ahearn declared victory Wednesday in a five-way primary to win the party’s nomination to run for State Senate this November.

She received 8,418 votes, according to the BOE.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright was second with 6,562 votes. Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni was third with 5,818, followed by fellow candidates Skyler Johnson (2,817) and Nora Higgins (951).

Former Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith declared victory as well Wednesday in her primary race for State Assembly. She defeated William Schleisner of Sound Beach. She received 6,417 votes compared to 1,975 for Mr. Schleisner.

Clarification: Initial numbers provided by the BOE reflected only the absentee ballots, not the total with the June 23 in-person results.