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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

Nancy Goroff miffs Suffolk PBA in endorsement screening

Nancy Goroff, Democratic primary candidate for US Congress

Nancy Goroff, Democratic primary candidate for US Congress NY District in Stony Brook on May 30, 2020. Credit: James Escher

The Suffolk County PBA wasn’t happy after its endorsement-screening meeting with Nancy Goroff.

That was the message from a July 30 PBA Facebook post that included a picture of the CD1 Democratic candidate holding a sign at what appears to be a protest: “COST of RIOTGEAR for 1 POLICEMAN EQUALS COST of PPE for 31 NURSES #BLACKLIVESMATTER.”

“During the screening,” the post says, “[Goroff] denied the above sign refers to defunding the police and stated she does not support taking money from police budgets to fund social programs.”

Then, in bold: “𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐨 𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐠𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐑𝐄𝐅𝐔𝐒𝐄𝐃 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐯𝐢𝐨𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐞, 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠, ‘𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐭.’ ”

The screening was for a coalition of Suffolk law enforcement unions, said PBA second vice president Louis Civello. It took place over Zoom last Thursday with Goroff in the morning and her opponent, GOP incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin, in the afternoon. Zeldin’s seemed to elicit few fireworks: “He assured us he is working diligently at bringing additional [first responder] funding here,” said Civello. 

But Goroff’s round had “some surprising answers there I will say, and that’s what the post referred to,” Civello told The Point. 

For her part, Goroff spokeswoman Hannah Jeffrey said that Goroff “stands by what she has said, which is that we need to put more funding into social services. The Suffolk PBA seems to confuse this with defunding the police.”

The union hasn’t issued a CD1 endorsement yet, but Zeldin has picked up the nod in the past and when he didn’t — in 2014, against Democrat Tim Bishop, according to Civello — the union was going with an incumbent with whom it had a “longstanding relationship.” 

Newcomer Goroff was therefore facing an uphill battle clicking into that Zoom screening. 

But it was even more uphill than usual this summer, given general Democratic support for Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The  GOP and law enforcement unions are focusing on riots and crime spikes.  

While the unions discuss fears of “defunding the police,” Democrats like Goroff say “that we as a society need to face the systemic racism that affects every aspect of life for people of color,” in the words of her spokeswoman. 

Suffolk County, home to many NYPD officers and other first responders as well as growing communities of color, continues to be a key battleground for these social issues to play out electorally. 

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