Island Vote: Zeldin vs. Gershon race eyed as referendum on Trump

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NESCONSET -

Pundits have for months pondered the potential of a "blue wave" this November, with Democrats hoping to surge into office in response to President Donald Trump's administration. New York's 1st congressional District is a closely watched race that could turn out to be a referendum on the president's popularity.

The 1st District includes most of the town of Smithtown, all of the town of Brookhaven and each of the five towns that make up the East End. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats, but nationally, Democrats believe it's a district they can win.

SERIES: Island Vote 2018

Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is seeking his third term in Congress, and he believes he's earned it.

"If I'm in southern Brookhaven, they're saying thank you for the emergency dredging of Moriches Inlet," Zeldin says. "On the North Fork they're saying thank you for the legislation that was just signed into law having the FAA reassess North Shore helicopter routes, or my bills that passed to protect Plum Island."

Zeldin's opponent, Democrat Perry Gershon, is a Manhattan native who's lived part time in East Hampton for 20 years and moved there full-time two years ago. It was also two years ago -- when Trump was elected -- that Gershon says he decided to enter politics.

"We need to reunite America," Gershon says. "The divisiveness, dividing our society -- it's too much red versus blue. The president is supposed to be bringing the country back together."

MORE: Balance of power in NY Senate at stake

Political analyst Mike Dawidziak says the midterms need to be looked at through two filters. "No. 1, how big is the blue wave going to be, a tsunami or a little Long Island Sound lap wave? And -- what are Donald Trump's approval ratings?" he says.

Gershon says Zeldin is out of touch with most Americans for aligning himself too closely with Trump. Zeldin says Gershon is out of touch with the very district he's trying to represent.

"I'm running against someone who recently registered in our district just to run for Congress. I have a record of service that goes back to grade school," Zeldin says.

"I've lived out in East Hampton for 20 years. I have a great sense of the community and what it means to live on Long Island," Gershon says.

Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 6.

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