First-time Candidates Win 2 Long Island Congressional Primaries

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Liuba Grechen Shirley and Perry Gershon

First-time candidates beat current and former elected officials Tuesday in two of three Democratic congressional primaries on Long Island.

Liuba Grechen Shirley defeated Suffolk County Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) in the race to challenge U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) on Election Day. And Perry Gershon won a five-way primary that included two former lawmakers in his bid to face U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) this fall. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), whose district includes part of Nassau County, fended off two primary challengers.

“I’m here today — we are all here today — to ensure that everyone in the 2nd District and all across America has the opportunity to succeed,” Shirley said in her victory speech. “For too long millionaires, corporations, and special interests have had a stranglehold on politics in this country. Today we say enough.”

Gregory, who was seeking a rematch against King, conceded.

“Tonight’s result is not what we wanted, but our mission remains the same: We must defeat Peter King in November,” he said. “It was a spirited race, and I hope to see this kind of enthusiasm from the Democratic Party ahead of the General Election.”

Shirley, a community organizer and economic expert from Amityville, made national headlines when she successfully lobbied the Federal Election Commission to become the first woman to use campaign funds for child care while on the trail.

In Zeldin’s East End district, Gershon declared victory.

“Tonight’s victory shows Suffolk County is energized and #NY01 is ready for change,” he wrote on Facebook. “I decided to run for Congress because I knew we needed a change in Washington. Suffolk County needs a strong voice.”

Zeldin’s re-election campaign issued a statement saying, in part, the congressman “looks forward to building upon his work for Long Island and our nation in his third term.”