By: Hellen Zaboulani
Hundreds of former New York City residents have fled to the Hamptons due to the Coronavirus pandemic. These newcomers may become the deciding factor in the hotly contested congressional race in eastern Long Island.
“I changed my registration to East Hampton because I feel my vote counts for a lot more here,” said a Manhattan lawyer and registered Republican who wished to remain anonymous. He said he moved to his East Hampton home during the pandemic and has since made it his primary residence.
In New York’s 1st District, polls show Republican incumbent Rep. Lee Zeldin, who has served in the House since 2015, is in a very close race with rookie Democratic candidate Nancy Goroff. The district covers most of Central and Eastern Suffolk County, including most of Smithtown, as well as all of Brookhaven, Riverhead, Southold, Shelter Island, Southampton, and East Hampton. The district has 700,000 people, 85% of whom are white, as per the census bureau.
“As long as they have bonafide residences in Suffolk County, they can change their registration,” said long-time election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder. “There are hotly contested local races in the Hamptons where their vote can make a difference.”
As reported by the NY Post, in the town of East Hampton, 876 NYC residents who have a second home there changed their registration to the Hamptons, as per the Suffolk County Board of Elections. A vast majority of these newcomers — 672 — are registered as Democrats, with only 77 identifying as Republicans, and 110 who are not registered to be affiliation with either party. In the town of Southampton, there are 910 newly registered Democrats, 401 Republicans and 669 unaffiliated, as per to county election officials. It is not clear how many of them have fled from New York City.
The congressional races in Manhattan are a lot less exciting, with the outcomes not likely alterable by a few hundred votes, Goldfeder said. The most recent poll shows third-term Zeldin leading Democat Goroff 49-48 percent, with 2 percent undecided for District 1. Leading issues include the pandemic, health care and law enforcement.
Jesse Garcia, the chair of the Suffolk County Republican Committee, said that “Democrats have been trying to game the system by registering voters” who have second homes in the Hamptons for years now. “But our voters are seeing what is going on in New York City with de Blasio and the progressives,” Garcia said. “We are pro law enforcement and our voters are smart, regardless of the games the Democrats are playing.”