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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

Democrats in CD1 try to push forward without Perry Gershon

Tthe East Hampton businessman said he'll decide on a second run in early April and pointed to his close finish to Zeldin when asked about criticisms of his performance.

Democratic candidate for New York's 1st district Perry

Democratic candidate for New York's 1st district Perry Gershon speaks with media and voters as Midterm Election results begin to come in on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Some Democratic activists attended a meeting at Tweed’s Restaurant in Riverhead on Friday to discuss prospective candidates for the 1st Congressional District other than Perry Gershon who wants another shot at Lee Zeldin.

Jim Morgo, a former Suffolk County legislator and deputy Suffolk County executive who more recently co-founded an Indivisible group, says attendees discussed their hope that Gershon "doesn't put away the field" again after losing to Rep. Lee Zeldin by some 4 percent in 2018.

Morgo has been vocal in the past about the Gershon campaign’s shortcomings in what turned out to be a wave year and says Democrats should look for qualities like deeper Long Island backgrounds, military or law enforcement service and ability to win in a place like Brookhaven. Gershon was lacking on those fronts.

The ghost of a two-time loser in CD1, Republican candidate Randy Altschuler, loomed large, with some discussion at the meeting about the downsides of someone with thin ties to the district. (Gershon registered to vote in Suffolk County in 2017).

Bryan Erwin, executive director of the Democratic super PAC Taking Action Suffolk County, says he was at the meeting but his organization is not going to involve itself in a primary.

Erwin said he is “looking forward to a robust and competitive primary with a number of candidates and a good exchange of ideas and political energy.”

Potential non-Gershon candidates discussed at the meeting were Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, and Jack Harrington, a lawyer and former candidate for Brookhaven town supervisor.

Fleming told The Point her “current focus” is on the position she holds. Schneiderman said it’s “not something at the moment I’m considering.” And an email to Harrington prompted an out-of-office message: “I am currently on military leave overseas without access to email. I will not return to the office until mid-2019.”

The Point has learned that other possible candidates being contacted by Democratic figures both locally and nationally include former Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko; Errol Toulon, currently the Suffolk sheriff; and John Feal, a veteran and head of the FealGood Foundation, which advocates for 9/11 survivors and victims. Jack Martilotta, a Greenport high school football coach, has also been floated. And Dave Calone, the venture capitalist who narrowly lost a primary to Anna Throne-Holst, the 2016 Democratic candidate against Zeldin, also is considering the race.

As for Gershon: the East Hampton businessman said he’ll decide on a second run in early April and pointed to his close finish to Zeldin when asked about criticisms of his performance.

He also noted that both George Hochbrueckner and Otis Pike lost before they won in CD1 -- as did Zeldin.

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