Democrat Nancy Goroff is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Nick LaLota...

Democrat Nancy Goroff is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Nick LaLota in the 1st Congressional District race. Credit: Chris Ware

Democrat Nancy Goroff on Wednesday declared her candidacy in the 1st Congressional District.

Goroff, of Stony Brook, is challenging freshman GOP Rep. Nick LaLota of Amityville in the 2024 election.

She ran for the seat in 2020 and lost to former U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley). Zeldin held the seat for four terms until his unsuccessful bid for governor in 2022.

Goroff, who had not filed papers with the Federal Elections Commission as of Wednesday morning, announced her candidacy in a news release. Democrat James Gaughran, a former state senator from Huntington, has filed to run in the district. Republican Darrion Stewart has filed to compete against LaLota in a primary.

“I am running because I have been watching the dysfunction in Washington and, like many people here in Suffolk County, I’ve been really frustrated by it,” Goroff said in an interview. “I feel like we deserve a representative who is actually going to work instead of focusing on sound bites.”

In response, LaLota criticized both Democrats and said he is “a commonsense conservative focused on making Long Island more affordable and the border more secure.”

Goroff taught at Stony Brook University for more than 20 years and served as chair of its chemistry department before retiring in 2021. Goroff, along with a group of colleagues, has since founded the nonprofit Long Island Strong Schools Alliance, which she said is focused on strengthening public schools.

Goroff said the top issues for the district are affordable living, the environment and public safety, which she said includes addressing reproductive rights and gun violence.

“People are really worried about whether their kids can afford to stay here, whether they can afford to retire here,” she said. “We need to make sure we have good jobs here and affordable prices.”

The district spans Suffolk County’s North Shore and eastern portion and has traditionally been a swing district.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics rates the district as “likely Republican” for the 2024 race.

Suffolk Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer said the district could shift to the left with the inclusion of parts of Huntington in the most recent congressional maps. A decision on the maps is pending in the state Court of Appeals.

Schaffer said the party is not officially backing either Democratic candidate in the race.

“Nancy is a very talented community leader, scientist, educator, someone whose credentials are desperately needed in Congress,” he said. “And she and Jimmy Gaughran are head and shoulders above the current incumbent, Nick LaLota.”

Suffolk County GOP Chairman Jesse Garcia said LaLota is a “committed and dedicated fighter for Long Island families” who has advocated for securing the southern border and opposed his party’s efforts to extend the $10,000 SALT cap for deductions of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns.

“He’s taken a leadership position on issues important to Suffolk voters like making their lives a little bit more affordable, even it means bucking his own party,” Garcia said.

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