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Nov 13, 2018 10:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

What's Next For Perry Gershon

Perry Gershon, Democratic candidate in the 2018 congressional election, at his home in East Hampton six days later.  KYRIL BROMLEY
Nov 14, 2018 9:50 AM

A week after being defeated by U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin in the congressional midterm elections, Perry Gershon reflected on his campaign—and came up with positive thoughts.

“This is a great district,” Mr. Gershon said on Monday afternoon from his East Hampton home, “and I really came to enjoy the people.”

A heated primary race unfolded in June with five Democratic candidates campaigning for the opportunity to uproot Mr. Zeldin from his seat as U.S. Representative for the 1st Congressional District of New York, which includes most of Smithtown as well as the entirety of the towns of Brookhaven, Riverhead, Southold, Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island. Mr. Gershon emerged as the winner of the primary election, receiving nearly 35 percent of the votes, giving him the Democratic nomination to challenge Mr. Zeldin, a Republican.

In one of the most contentious midterm congressional elections in decades, voters chose the incumbent, Mr. Zeldin, over Mr. Gershon, a newcomer to the political arena, in the November 6 election. Without absentee ballots counted, the unofficial Election Day tally shows that Mr. Zeldin won approximately 53 percent of the votes, while Mr. Gershon won 47 percent.

Mr. Gershon said he didn’t have any regrets about the campaign. “We did a lot right. The business is just unfinished,” he said. “I—or the next person—needs to get over the finish line next time.”

Overall, he said, national Democrats won back the House of Representatives, and “we made Lee Zeldin work for it. They put in, I think, $360,000 of Super PAC money for the last week of the election. They did that because they knew how close the race was. That money didn’t go into other races.”

Mr. Gershon said the National Democratic Party built back a lot of what it had lost in the last two elections.

“It’s a seat the Democrats can win, and I think we came very close this time,” he said of the 1st District.

He added, “I ran with the mindset knowing I could lose, and life goes on. I wouldn’t have that attitude the next time around.”

Mr. Gershon said his campaign made great progress in the South Fork—where he won the majority of the vote, and did not lose a single election district east of the Shinnecock Canal—and the North Fork.

He said that it’s particularly hard for a candidate in East Hampton to campaign in towns like Smithtown simply due to the distance.

“We got hurt badly in Smithtown,” Mr. Gershon said.

When the absentee numbers come in—“There are so many absentee votes, and that will have an effect,” he noted—Mr. Gershon said he believes he will have received about 30,000 more votes than Mr. Zeldin tallied when he defeated incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop to take over the seat in 2014.

Mr. Gershon spent a little less than $2 million of his own money on his campaign, which cost a total of $5.2 million between the primary and general elections.

He said he and his family knew what they signed up for when he decided to run for office. “The only thing that got to me was when someone drew a swastika on a campaign sign, and Zeldin said the Gershon campaign had done it to themselves,” he said. “I found that to be vile.” Mr. Gershon, like Mr. Zeldin, is of the Jewish faith.

As of now, Mr. Gershon said, he doesn’t know if he will be taking part in politics anytime soon.

“There’s a part of me that wants to do it, but it’s a major commitment,” he said. “It was 18 months, full time.” Running for office turned his life upside down, he said. “Everything else I had been doing was put on hold. Now I’m putting the pieces back together, and we’ll see where they fall.

“I’m a different person now than I was 18 months ago,” he added.

Although he was new to politics, this election showed Mr. Gershon to be a serious candidate. If he runs again, he plans to campaign in the areas where he came up short.

“The first time, you build your base. The second time, you build your inroads,” he said.

He added that it was very helpful to have the endorsements of newspapers such as Newsday and virtually every publication on the East End.

Mr. Gershon said he feels he has unfinished business. “The Democrats can win next time—that’s my message,” he added. “If I decide to do it again, [the loss] energizes me.”

As for Mr. Zeldin, Mr. Gershon said he hopes to see him work with Democrats and become more of a “centrist Republican” as opposed to a “right-wing zealot.”

“I’d love to see him take the positions he took in the election, instead of the ones he actually took,” he said, adding, “Time will tell.”

Mr. Gershon is retired from working for 25 years as a commercial real estate lender. He originally planned to become a doctor, and he attended medical school for two and a half years. After graduating from Yale in 1984, he opened a successful sports bar in Manhattan called the Polo Grounds, which he sold after three and a half years. A laminated menu from his early business venture sits on a cabinet in the dining room of the home where he lives with his wife, Lisa, and his Shiba Inu, Dina. The Gershons’ two sons, Logan and Marshall, are both in college.

For now, Mr. Gershon said, he isn’t thinking about get involved in politics.

“I’m going scuba diving on Thursday,” he said. “I need to do some soul-searching for the rest of November and December and see what my next plans are.”

“I grew as a person,” Mr. Gershon said with a smile about the campaign. “I’m optimistic about the future.

“There is nothing that I really would have done differently, or that I am embarrassed about,” he summed up. “I think we had great results. We did a lot more than anyone thought we’d do.”

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He has a laminated menu and a Shibu Inu and he's even going scuba diving on Thursday?!

Sounds like he's going back to doing nothing for anyone but himself. Typical carpet bagging democrat. Maybe he and Beto can run for president. You dems seem to love candidates who spend gobs of cash to lose.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Nov 13, 18 11:34 AM
Perry was an imperfect candidate for this district but did a a great job nonetheless. He lost by a small margin to an incumbent. But the Dems won the house easily and Trump will cost Zeldin in 2020. Even Lee knows that. You do too.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Nov 13, 18 1:06 PM
Really?? Are you talking about Pres Trump? He's the one who has never done anything for anyone but himself. What a joke. And now his puppet Zeldin is there to rubber stamp his decimation of the middle class for another 2 years.
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Nov 13, 18 2:48 PM
Perry Gershon was an excellent candidate and he finished well. I worked for him and it was a pleasure, but he labored under the same burden as did the Democratic challenger two years ago, Anna Throne Holst — both from the East End. It doesn’t work because the votes are mostly in the western part of the district. We need a candidate from Brookhaven or Smithtown. There were several such persons in the five-candidate primary, and I voted for one of them, but a plurality of Dems favored ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Nov 13, 18 12:36 PM
Turkey Bridge, I never thought of it that way. East end is a world apart from up the island. You think one of the other candidates could have won?
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 1:08 PM
how about you pick your signs in your free time
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Nov 13, 18 1:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
We agree on the geographic issues your candidates face, George. If you stop chasing the Sagaponack and East Hampton money, maybe the Democrat party could win back this district. And stop running carpet baggers by getting a Dem from Smithtown.... just saying.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 1:11 PM
The only reason he got so many absentee votes was because the Democrat party unabashedly and admittedly went to NYC and had tens of thousands of city people re-register to vote in Suffolk County instead of where they actually live in NYC in an attempt to take the seat away from Republicans. There are significantly more Republicans who actually live and work out here in Suffolk, so to get more votes the Democrat party told the NYC Democrats that their vote in NYC was just a grain of sand at the beach ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Nov 13, 18 1:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
LocalEH, that’s how you get people to vote. Instead of voter suppression, register more voters. It’s not illegal or unethical.you pay taxes out here, you should vote.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 2:19 PM
Except none of them pay one red cent in taxes out here either. If they don’t live here and have no connection to the area they sure aren’t paying any local taxes here. They were just helped by the Democrats to re-register out here even though they live in NYC. Some may occasionally rent a place here in the summer but most don’t even do that. How is that not unethical. If Republicans went to various deep red towns in upstate NY and had residents there register to vote here, even ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Nov 14, 18 9:17 AM
Local, suppose you own a home out here?
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 14, 18 9:55 AM
From 27 east.....Alice Yaker and her husband, Jerry Goldfeder, have been political activists their whole lives. Lawyers who live in Manhattan, the pair have worked on local, state and national campaigns for the Democratic Party for decades. Mr. Goldfeder specializes in campaign finance and election law.

After years of visiting the Hamptons in summertime, the couple purchased a house in Hampton Bays in 2006 and started spending more and more time on the South Fork. When Ms. Yaker signed ...more
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 14, 18 9:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
Local, your pretty much wrong
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 14, 18 10:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
carpet bagging liberal citiots, the alt left will stop at nothing in their evil attempt to fulfill their version of the New World Order.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 14, 18 10:06 AM
2 members liked this comment
Big duck, can you be anymore foolish? Your party tries every dirty trick to suppress voting. There is nothing illegal or unethical about this. Go take a cold shower, your over heated and talking crazy.the whole citiot thing is so yesterday, grow up.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 14, 18 10:11 AM
How am I wrong. You yourself just posted the exact quotes from the Democrats saying they were intentionally re-registering people from the city who are not real residents and inclu those who only RENT here in order to stuff the ballot box. Since when do summer house renters pay taxes locally? So you have no problem with Republicans getting tons of Republican NYC residents who rent summer houses out here to register to vote out here. Since Republican voices are drown out in NYC we can definitely ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Nov 14, 18 8:52 PM
Local, this is what your wrong about. This is your quote,”Except none of them pay one red cent in taxes out here either”. The story says nothing of the sorts. Go get all the republicans registered out here, it’s legal. It would be a far cry from your party’s usual tactic of voter suppression.l
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 15, 18 6:04 AM
PERRY GERSHON was a GREAT CANDIDATE from day one, No other Democrat could have put up a better run than Perry. I guess you guys forgot that Bishop was from the East End and he won six terms. The problem isn't geographic it's Bigotry..trumpism, NeoNazism. In 2020, I hope the people of CD1-East and West - come to their senses and see what damage Zeldin and the Republicans have done to our Country and CD1 and will vote Democratic, Hopefully, PERRY will be our candidate.
By SpeedRacer (160), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 1:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
One thing I couldn’t understand was the campaign sign with the alleged swastika graffiti that Gershon posted on his Twitter account. Any which way I looked at it, rotating it and looking at it from every possible perspective, even trying to view it in the most abstract sense, it just didn’t look even remotely close to being a swastika. What’s up with that???? It was about as convincing as some members here calling Lee Zeldin and “all” his supporters neo-Nazis.
Nov 13, 18 2:07 PM appended by Dawn_O
I know you didn’t Fred. I didn’t vote for Zeldin, and am aware of the dangers of nationalism. As a post WWII baby boomer and of Hungarian descent, I think that SpeedRacer’s knowledge of Vitezi Rend is limited to the media’s and Wikipedia’s version. I neither endorse or denounce Vitezi Rend, and am not anti Semitic by any means.
By Dawn_O (45), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 2:07 PM
Dawn_O, Any Suffolk County PD or NYPD crime scene officer will tell that the when you spray paint a swastika you get what was on the Gershon sign.
As far as Zeldin connection to the Neo Nazis all you need to know is Steve Bannon, the Charlottesville Nazi march organizer help a Zeldin fundraiser in Manhattan and Hungarian Nazi Gorka ran a Zeldin fundraiser in Brookhaven. So... as they say "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck..IT MUST BE A DUCK"
By SpeedRacer (160), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 2:18 PM
Dawn _O, I never called zeldins supporters neo nazis, meaning his voters out here. I called the people campaigning for him white nationalist.big difference.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 2:21 PM
WHAT'S NEXT FOR PERRY ? Rejoin the circus as a clown. No makeup necessary.
By P. Revere (152), hampton Bays on Nov 13, 18 2:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
P. Revere The only clown on the Political scene is the ORANGE CLOWN, with the birds nest on his head, who is occupying our White House.
You Republicans are destroying our Democracy and are viewed as a threat to World Peace. But...Mueller Ain't Going Away (MAGA).
By HamptonClassic (132), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 7:16 PM
WHAT'S NEXT FOR PERRY? He and Maxine Waters partnership in a wig company called " Before and After".! What fool spends $2,000,000.00 of his own money on a long shot to become a congressman ? DUMB DUMB DUMBEST .
By P. Revere (152), hampton Bays on Nov 13, 18 8:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
P. Revere, your the reason we can’t have nice things.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 8:12 PM
Fred s. You're (notice the hyphen joining you and are. If YOU can not differentiate between your and you're) the reason we can't have intelligent debate.
By Bayman3142 (249), Southampton on Nov 18, 18 12:13 AM
“You should prefer a good scientist without literary abilities than a literate one without scientific skills.” Leonardo Da Vinci

It’s an apostrophe Bayman, not a hyphen : )
By Dawn_O (45), Southampton on Nov 18, 18 6:33 AM
2 members liked this comment
Thanks Batman, I feel the same about your last post on crime stats. Disingenuous and foolish. I can’t spell, and you can’t prove a point.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 18, 18 6:40 AM
Thank you Dawn_O . That’s his way. He uses the lowest common denominator, it fails every time. His motto is “ baffle them with my bs”. Charming
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 18, 18 6:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
P. Revere Unlike YOU, Perry is a successful person who cares about this community and our Country. Unlike Zeldin who takes money from the Neo-Nazis and the NRA and does nothing for CD1.
Then there is the self-centered Orange Clown who is ripping off the Country for his personal gain.

Mueller Ain't Going Away (MAGA)
By HamptonClassic (132), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 8:22 PM
Or, perhaps the County Seat and eastward has become populous enough to warrant it's own district.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 13, 18 8:24 PM
Your just finding out what a great place the East End is? I guess not enough of your friends changed their voter registration to help. What's going to happened when they can't vote in NYC anymore? Going to switch back and flip flop from year to year?
By Gene10x (27), Southampton on Nov 13, 18 10:27 PM
Damage? Please be more specific.....What damage has Zeldin done to the district and country? Seriously, what damage are you suffering from on a daily basis while living on the East End because of Zeldin? I can think of damage done by our local town boards, school boards and county officials. examples: traffic, cost per student vs test scores and college bound students, beach access (parking lot conditions/building conditions, hours of operation) increase in building permit fees, unlicensed pets ...more
By auntof9 (159), Southampton on Nov 14, 18 10:38 AM
Perry prefers plastic political placards persist past poll period.
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Nov 14, 18 11:26 AM
The desperate Swamp is aware that their end is near and is trying to discredit AG Whitaker
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By They call me (2826), southampton on Nov 24, 18 4:29 PM
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By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Nov 24, 18 6:16 PM