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Fresh strategy paid off
Lots of campaigns advertise on Facebook, but Liuba Grechen Shirley’s ads were a little different. In the days leading up to the Democratic primary for New York’s 2nd Congressional District, Grechen Shirley’s campaign paid for dozens of personalized Facebook ads asking for votes and telling social media users where their voting places were — down to the exact addresses of local schools — perhaps making it easier for nontraditional primary voters.
Those ads appear in Facebook’s archive of political ads run on the site since early May. That archive shows no ads from the campaign of Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory. The innovative (if slightly Big Brother-y) ads were just one part of Grechen Shirley’s savvy campaign that prevailed Tuesday night over Gregory and the local party establishment.
Grechen Shirley, of Amityville, had the help of new leftist resistance-style groups. They included polished incubators like The Arena (which had a presence in Grechen Shirley’s campaign office on Tuesday) and young grass-roots groups, many based in New York City. Indivisible Nation BK, for example, hosted phone banking. Indivisible Upper East Side members volunteered. Brooklyn City Councilmember Brad Lander, himself the creator of an active “resistance” group, campaigned in Suffolk County, far from brownstone Brooklyn, on primary day.
Grechen Shirley used Facebook Live videos and positive news coverage to keep the focus on the candidate’s fighting-for-women-and-families message, particularly in her fairly groundbreaking effort to use campaign funds for child care.
That message, and any fresh campaign strategies she can bring to bear, will be key as she looks to pick off moderate female voters who don’t usually vote in a midterm against the well-known Republican incumbent, Peter King.
Mark Chiusano and Sam Guzik
Zeldin’s zeisty ‘Park Avenue Perry’ rant
In between Rep. Lee Zeldin’s unsuccessful run at 1st District predecessor Tim Bishop in 2008 and his victorious rematch against Bishop in 2014, the Shirley Republican got to watch two races for the seat from the outside, and see what works in the state’s easternmost congressional district.
Based on his news release after Democrat Perry Gershon’s primary win Tuesday, Zeldin took the lessons of 2010 and 2014 to heart.
In both those races, the GOP nominee was Randy Altschuler, whose deep pockets and shallow roots in the district defined his races. Altschuler, who spent most of his life in New York City and made a fortune as an investment banker and entrepreneur, did not move to Long Island until 2007. He came within 600 votes of beating Bishop in the GOP wave election of 2010, but then lost the rematch by 11,000. In each race, he was painted as a big-city carpetbagger with no connection to the community who came out east to buy a seat in Congress.
Altschuler moved to Potomac, Maryland, shortly after the second defeat.
The Zeldin campaign’s 800-word screed welcoming Gershon to the general election fray led off with “Congrats to Park Avenue Perry on buying his way into a general election.” It went on to call Gershon a “liberal Manhattan Democrat” who “has more in common with radicals like Bill De Blasio and Nancy Pelosi than the residents of our Congressional District.”
The “Park Avenue Perry” moniker and image are clearly ones Zeldin hopes will stick. He used it five time in his statement, and it was also prominent in statements from the Suffolk County GOP chair and every town GOP chair in the district. Gershon moved his voting registration last year to the Hamptons, where he has a home.
And the history of wealthy candidates with tenuous roots in the district losing 1st CD races goes well beyond Altschuler. Political junkies will recall wealthy businessman William Manger, who lost to Bishop in 2004, and Italo Zanzi, a glamorous former professional soccer and team handball player who moved to Suffolk to join (and lose) the 2006 race.
Gershon, for his part, will have to make the case that he’s different from Manger, Zanzi and Altschuler, and there is at least one difference. The other three were all Republicans.
Catch them if you can
Millennials missing from LI Power 50
City & State gathered some of Long Island’s rich and powerful for a celebratory reception Tuesday recognizing the region’s 50 most influential people. Company presidents and CEOs flocked to a catering hall in Jericho to network. The keynote speaker, Steve Israel, who retired from Congress two years ago, emphasized the importance of those who have the power to prepare for the future: “As long as they exercise it by making the right choices, right priorities, right investments,” he said, “we as a community will be able to build and build together.”
This gathering was an opportunity to discuss how the region will become more diverse and inclusive. Missing from that conversation, as well as from this City & State list, were the voices of young people and minorities whose futures will be affected by the decisions made by those in power.
NextLI, a recently launched Newsday project, aims to fill that gap by inviting new participants into Long Island’s civic life. While it’s impossible to grow without the wisdom of those who came before us, we must rely on those who will come after us to shape the future and build the communities that we’d all want to be a part of. Click here to join us.