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Discussing the election with Nancy Goroff

Nancy Goroff on the shore of the Long

Nancy Goroff on the shore of the Long Island Sound at West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Daily Point

Catching up with Goroff

With the count of absentee ballots concluded in CD1, Democratic challenger Nancy Goroff lost to Rep. Lee Zeldin by nearly 10 percentage points.

That’s more than Zeldin won by in the 2018 midterms when he had a 4% spread against Perry Gershon, though less than the 16% margin in 2016 when the Shirley Republican beat Anna Throne-Holst. What explains the solid Zeldin win this time around?

Goroff chalks much of it up to President Donald Trump.

"The presidential election dominated local voting here," the Stony Brook Democrat said in a Thursday interview with The Point.

"Certainly we knew from the beginning that if Trump won the district it was going to be very difficult to unseat Zeldin as a third-term incumbent," said Goroff, adding that her polling suggested former Vice President Joe Biden would win the Suffolk County district by a few points and thus put her in contention.

That projection would have been a big shift from the president’s margins last time around, and it didn’t pan out this year. According to final election district data crunched by Goroff’s campaign, Trump beat Biden by more than 15,000 votes in the district, despite winning the county in its entirety by a mere 232 votes.

And while Goroff easily drew more total votes than either Gershon or Throne-Holst, she underperformed Biden in the district while Zeldin outperformed Trump.

Goroff said there wasn’t enough data to know whether the widespread law enforcement messaging from Republicans mattered in the race, and she doesn’t think a more physical field program than the one torpedoed by the pandemic would have bridged the gap.

She also cautioned against drawing conclusions that a winning CD1 Democratic candidate would need to have a very specific profile, particularly in a Trumpless election.

"It's important to recognize that there are many factors that go into the ultimate outcome and of course who we nominate matters," she said, but with Trump winning the district fairly comfortably, "I don’t think any candidate would have been able to defeat three-time incumbent Lee Zeldin."

She added: "I do think that Democrats should put their effort into strengthening the local party infrastructure and making sure it's as inclusive as possible rather than imagining hypothetical candidates who might have some profile that they think will be attractive to non-Democrats."

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

For NY’s Electoral College, an exception to the rule

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spent most of his Friday news conference discussing how people shouldn’t gather indoors.

But on Monday, New York State’s 29 Electoral College delegates will gather – indoors – in Albany.

Why?

State officials have said that state law requires the electors to meet in person at the Capitol. And Cuomo – while usually up for a fight with President Donald Trump – doesn’t want to take any chances this time.

"I don’t want to create any issues for litigation, where somebody tries to invalidate the New York election because of this," Cuomo said, noting that he doesn’t want to add to the mix of legal challenges Trump and others have brought.

Added Cuomo secretary Melissa DeRosa: "We don’t feel comfortable taking a chance on it. We don’t want to do anything to undermine the results."

And so, the electors – a group that includes former President Bill Clinton, former Senator Hillary Clinton and state Attorney General Letitia James — will come to Albany and meet in the State Assembly chamber, which is larger than the Senate’s. Electors will be tested before they can enter the chamber and the traditional lunch and meet-and-greet have been eliminated.

Long Island electors include Thomas Garry, a Nassau Democratic Party stalwart who heads Uniondale-based law firm Harris Beach; Gary LaBarbera, the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York; Jay Jacobs, who chairs the Nassau County and state Democratic Party; and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Also a Long Island elector: Westbury resident Xiao Wang, who sources confirmed also goes by Michelle and who serves as chairwoman of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs’ Northeast chapter. Wang is the mother of state Democratic Committee Executive Director Alexander Wang, who "chose to give that honor to his mother," Jacobs told The Point.

There will be plenty of social distancing and personal protective equipment as the electors gather, Cuomo said.

And, Cuomo added, he expects the delegates to do their work "as quickly as possible," so that they are not inside together for long.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Don't give up hope

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Final Point

For Santos, it’s not over yet

On the day after an Election Day that left him with a slim in-person vote lead over Rep. Tom Suozzi, CD3 candidate George Anthony Devolder-Santos filed paperwork for a new campaign account: Devolder Santos For Congress Recount.

Over the next weeks, Santos raised tens of thousands of dollars, even as the Whitestone Republican headed toward solid defeat at the hands of Suozzi’s successful support from absentee ballots. The account ultimately logged $265,401.28 in contributions through Nov. 23, and also oversaw $188,243.93 in disbursements.

It is not entirely unusual for candidates in New York to get ready to open up a new bank account for post-Election Day activities, and according to Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinion 2006-24, recount funds can be used for expenses related to issues like counting absentee ballots or post-election litigation.

Yet none of the other unsuccessful Long Island Democratic or Republican congressional candidates filed paperwork to open a recount committee, according to the FEC website. And the big monetary interest in supporting Santos’ post-election activities was relatively hefty given the likelihood from the beginning that absentee ballots would doom his chances.

Still, Santos’ fundraising efforts notched thousands from individual donors from Florida to Kansas, including from Manhattan Republican Party Chair Andrea Catsimatidis who sent $500 on Nov. 10.

He spent it on purchases ranging from an Airbnb reservation to media bookings. Nearly $140,000 went to a Virginia company called Donor Bureau for a "Fundraising Commission," and $2,026.25 was spent on a laptop from a Best Buy in Long Island City.

Santos told The Point that the Airbnb was a way to have a headquarters for the campaign’s recount, even though there wasn’t one for the run itself. He said the laptop was for campaign use and he’s planning to run for office again.

"This was all done with my attorneys," he said, adding that the campaign opened the recount committee "because we won on Election Night and we were going to defend it no matter what."

An FEC spokesman declined to comment on a specific situation but noted that a previous advisory opinion "declined to opine" regarding "the use of recount funds for future elections."

Santos says his campaign is not done with accounting but plans to donate leftover funds to a nonprofit. But despite having conceded his race last month, he now says he is working toward an unspecified legal challenge.

"We are still actively engaging," he said.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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