Lee Zeldin, the two-term Republican Congressman from New York’s First District, beat Democratic challenger Perry Gershon in the November 6 election by six percentage points, collecting 130,919 votes, or 52.5 percent, to Gershon’s 115,795, or 46.4 percent, with all districts reporting.
Zeldin’s victory, while closer than had been predicted, was still decisive in the Republican leaning district. In holding onto his seat, Zeldin bucked the national trend, which saw the Democrats win back a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years.
According to 538, a website run by Nate Silver, a leading statistician and political analyst, New York First District is more Republican than the nation as a whole. On Election Day, 538 had Zeldin as an overwhelming 15-1 favorite to win against Gershon. Although polls projected a wider margin of victory, Zeldin won by about 15,000 votes, well below his margin when he defeated then Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst by more than 16 percentage points, and over 53,000 votes.
“We were campaigning on results and that’s what won at the end of the day,” Zeldin said in his victory speech Tuesday night.
In East Hampton Town, David Lys, who was appointed to fill the remaining year of Peter Van Scoyoc’s term on the town board when Van Scoyoc was elected town supervisor last year, handily defeated his Republican challenger, Manny Vilar by a 69-to-31-percent margin. Lys held off a primary challenge from fellow Democrat David Gruber, but will be required to run again next year.
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who attempted to wrestle the Suffolk County comptroller’s chair from incumbent Republican John Kennedy, lost in a narrow race. Kennedy won about 51 percent of the total, with Schneiderman receiving 49 percent. The incumbent’s endorsement from the Conservative and Independence parties, which accounted for nearly seven percent of his total vote, carried him to victory. Schneiderman, who has been a county legislator and supervisor of both East Hampton and Southampton Town Boards, had never lost an election in a career that spans 25 year. Schneiderman still has a year remaining on his term as supervisor.
In other races, longtime State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senator Ken LaValle won easily yet again. Thiele, who was first elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in 1987 and also served a stint as Southampton Town supervisor before being elected to the Assembly in 1995, won his 13thterm, trouncing Republican challenger Patrick O’Connor, by an almost 60-to-40-percent margin. LaValle, who has been in the State Senate since 1976, bested his Democratic challenger Greg Fischer by a 58-to-42-percent margin.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, was easily elected to her third term, defeating her Republican challenger, Chele Farley, by a 2-to-1 margin. Democratic Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli all won reelection, as did the Democratic candidate for state attorney general, Letitia James, although their margins were closer in Suffolk County.