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Challengers to Reps. Lee Zeldin and Peter King outraise incumbents

Second Congressional District race candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley,

Second Congressional District race candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley, seen at Levvittown Hall in Hicksville on June 4, raised $1.4 million in the last three months, according to federal records. Credit: Johnny Milano

ALBANY — Two Long Island Democrats seeking upsets in congressional races raised more in the past three months than their veteran Republican opponents, but the incumbents have far more cash on hand to spend during the final days of the campaigns, according to new federal records.

Liuba Grechen Shirley, the Democratic challenger to Republican Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in the 2nd Congressional District, raised $1.3 million in the last three months, while King raised just under $203,000 during the period, reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show.

But King has 10 times as much cash on hand — $2.8 million — to spend in the final days of the campaign, compared with Grechen Shirley’s $274,000.

In the First District, Democrat Perry Gershon raised $1.3 million in the quarter, but with transfers from other political campaigns and other receipts his contributions totaled more than $1.55 million.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) raised $729,673 during the period, but with transfers from other campaigns and in-kind services his contributions totaled more than $1 million for the quarter, his campaign said.

Also, Zeldin has $1.8 million in cash on hand for the rest of the race, compared with Gershon’s $535,033.

Democrats need a net gain of 24 seats nationwide to take control of the House, and they’re hoping opposition to Republican President Donald Trump will help put them over the top. Republicans, however, say their base has been energized after the raucous but successful nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court this month.

FEC reports show that ActBlue, an online site that attracts donations nationwide for Democrats opposed to Trump, has provided $352,247 to Gershon this year and $421,580 to Grechen Shirley.

The analytics website FiveThirtyEight cited Grechen Shirley’s fundraising as evidence of her improved prospects against King. FiveThirtyEight analysts also are watching the 1st District closely for signs of a possible Democratic victory.

“Liuba Grechen Shirley is running the strongest grass roots campaign to unseat Peter King that Long Island has seen in over a decade,” said Shirley’s campaign manager, Anna Brichacek.

King said the bottom line is that he has far more money than Grechen Shirley for the end of the campaign.

“My funds for the stretch run are 10 times more than hers,” King said.

The filings released this week show a surge in contributions in the races.

At the end of June, Zeldin had $1.7 million in cash on hand compared with Gershon’s $73,966. Gershon’s campaign committee also reported $900,000 of debt for loans “made or guaranteed” by Gershon.

“Our congressman has the resources, volunteers, and voters necessary to get out his message and win this important election in three weeks,” said Chris Boyle, communications director for Zeldin’s campaign.

In his June campaign filings King had $3 million in cash, compared with Grechen Shirley’s $186,485.

In other congressional races on Long Island:

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) raised $437,815 in the last three months compared with Republican nominee Dan DeBono’s $69,896 in the 3rd District race. Suozzi had $1.78 million in cash on hand to DeBono’s $153,795.

In the 4th District, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) collected $126,069 in the last three months, spent $281,147 and has $695,216 on hand. The report of her opponent, Republican Ameer Benno, wasn’t posted by Tuesday.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), who is unopposed in the 5th District, which includes a portion of western Nassau County, has $120,221 cash on hand, according to his FEC report.

Amount raised in last 3 months Cash on hand

Grechen Shirley$1.3 million$274,000

King$203,000$2.8 million

Gershon$1.3 million$535,033

Zeldin$729,673$1.8 million

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