Perry Gershon, Democratic candidate for Congress, on April 17.

Perry Gershon, Democratic candidate for Congress, on April 17. Credit: James Escher

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Friday moved Democrat Perry Gershon's bid to unseat Rep. Lee Zeldin to its top tier of targeted races.

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján cited Gershon's fundraising, campaign infrastructure and "deep ties to the community he aims to serve" in a statement announcing the move to the "Red-to-Blue Program," which includes 82 seats.

The DCCC said moving the race up will mean additional DCCC staff resources, candidate training and strategic guidance.

Gershon said his campaign has raised more than $1.25 million since July 1, with contributions averaging $85.

"I'm happy to see the national party has come to understand the momentum we have and recognize it," Gershon said Friday. "We know that this race is extremely competitive and there's tremendous Democratic energy."

Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle said: "So Nancy Pelosi has decided she’s going to waste money on Perry Gershon? . . . If Perry Gershon is the standard-bearer for the blue wave, they just crashed."

Zeldin (R-Shirley) is seeking a third term. The 1st Congressional District historically been a swing district, shifting between Democratic and Republican control.

But the race has received scant attention from national Democrats since Zeldin won his re-election two years ago by 16 percentage points and President Donald Trump won the district by 12 points.

Zeldin campaign spokesman Chris Boyle said being the 82nd targeted race "is nothing to brag about." He noted that Zeldin's 2016 opponent Anna Throne-Holst had the same designation when she lost. 

Gershon, an East Hampton commercial real estate lender, won a five-way Democratic Primary in June.

The decision to move the First Congressional race to its top-tier list of races was made before Thursday's Democratic primary for state races, which saw high turnout, Gershon said.

Zeldin as well as Rep. Peter King’s 2nd District had been among the DCCC’s “Majority Makers” program, a second tier of races. 

The 1st District covers Brookhaven, the East End towns and slivers of Islip and Smithtown.

Latest videos