A former physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory said Thursday she will run for Congress in Suffolk’s 1st District, becoming the second Democrat to enter the 2018 race.
Elaine DiMasi, 48, of Ronkonkoma, announced her candidacy in an email, under the banner “Scientist for Congress.”
She made no mention of incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who won his second term last year by 18 percentage points. Several other Democrats also are considering whether to run.
“Scientists look at problems in a different way than politicians,” DiMasi said in an interview. “And if we believe Congress can be a diverse, problem-solving team, then more of us belong there.”
DiMasi left Brookhaven Lab on July 28, after 21 years. She is required by law to leave her federal job to seek federal elected office.
At the lab, DiMasi’s work included developing “new ways of seeing synthetic and biological materials.” She said that, if elected, she will focus on climate change, workforce development and infrastructure improvement.
“Progressive solutions are possible,” said DiMasi, an unaffiliated voter until 2015, when she became a Democrat and supported the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
The 1st District, which extends from Smithtown and Islip to easternmost Suffolk County, long had been considered among the nation’s most competitive, before Zeldin’s convincing victory last fall.
Nonetheless, progressive activists are targeting Zeldin over his support for President Donald Trump and the stalled repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Former Suffolk County Legis. Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D-Setauket) also has announced her candidacy. Others who have expressed interest in the Democratic nomination include Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor); County Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley); and Perry Gershon, a businessman who recently moved his voting address from Manhattan to East Hampton.
“While several Democratic Party candidates spend the next year trying to out-liberal each other for the right to be the Democratic Party designee, Congressman Zeldin will remain completely focused on working harder than anyone else to deliver positive results to grow our economy, protect our security, and improve in many other ways our community, state, and nation,” said Zeldin spokeswoman Jennifer DiSiena.