On-site voting has Second Congressional seat staying in GOP control
In the race for the 2nd Congressional District seat of veteran legislator Peter King, Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino, the Republican nominee and King heir apparent, tallied 58 percent (157,001 votes) to Democratic competitor Jackie Gordon’s 41.1 percent (111,204). Green Party candidate Harry Burger received a .09 percent (2,565) sliver of the electoral pie.
And while these numbers represent 100 percent of tallied same-day votes, like so many other races in this 2020 electoral season, the counting of absentee ballots is what has prevented the race from being officially called. Like the Trump-Biden presidential race, where the tallying of absentee ballots found the latter marching towards the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the presidency days after the polls closed, Gordon’s camp is hoping for a similar scenario and has yet to concede despite the 17-point differential at press time.
“With the unprecedented number of Long Islanders casting absentee ballots this year, it is clear that this election will not be called anytime soon,” Gordon representative Remmington Belford said in a statement. “To certify the results of this election, every vote must be counted, and we look forward to seeing the final results.”
The processing of absentee votes didn’t prevent Garbarino from declaring victory.
“I am honored to have received such amazing support from the great people of New York’s 2nd Congressional District,” he said in a statement. “While there are more votes to be counted, I am confident we will be named the winner in this election.”
Framing The Race
The 2nd Congressional District stretches in the west from Levittown and wends east through North Wantagh, Seaford, South Farmingdale and Massapequa right into a number of Suffolk County communities including Amityville, Copiague, Lindenhurst, Brentwood, Babylon, Oakdale and Ronkonkoma. Previously designated as the 3rd Congressional District, it’s a seat that’s been in Republican hands dating back to 1993, when King won his first race for it and served 14 terms as a representative before announcing his retirement.
Hand-picked by the GOP, Garbarino won a primary race against fellow assemblyman Mike LiPetri while garnering endorsements from King and a number of law enforcement unions. Garbarino is a third-generation local businessman who works at his family law firm in downtown Sayville.
A four-term Assemblyman, Garbarino touted his experience in Albany throughout his campaign, citing his numerous roles including his being a Ranking Minority Member of the Committee on Insurance and his sitting on the Codes, Health, Higher Education, and Racing and Wagering committees. In pushing a Long Island-first theme throughout the race, Garbarino focused on getting a pro-public safety message across to voters, going so far as to question where his opponent fell on this issue when asked about it while he was running.
“We have a pro-public safety and pro-law enforcement message regarding what’s going on with bail reform and what’s going on with criminal justice reform,” he said. “We’re promising to stay on the side of public safety and not pro-criminal. We’ve been focusing on my opponent not taking a public stance on any of those issues. She’s been asked about defunding the police and to my knowledge as of today, she doesn’t want to repeal bail reform. She’s running more on her résumé than what her plans for the district are.”
Gordon is a 29-year military veteran who retired from the Army Reserve with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2014 and served on the Babylon Town Council since 2007, resigning in 2020 to run for Congress. Eventually endorsed by President Barack Obama, she took on Garbarino as the Democratic nominee after getting past political activist Pat Maher, who lost to King in 2014. A seasoned educator who spent three decades working in New York public schools, including time spent as a guidance counselor at Wilson Technological Center in Farmingdale, Gordon made veterans’ rights and fighting for health care a main thrust of her campaign. She felt Gabarino’s comments about her commitment to the rule of law ignored the role her experience as a public servant played in upholding those very ideals.
“I was in the military for 29 years of which 27 of those I was a police officer, so not only do I support law enforcement, I am law enforcement,” she said in a prior interview. “In addition to that, I spent 32 years caring for our youngsters. They were in my care for six hours a day for 32 years. It was my job to make sure they were safe when they were in my care. And as a councilwoman on the town board for 13 years, part of my responsibility was public safety. So I have personally spent my entire life keeping my community and my country safe and not just supporting it. My opponent supports [law enforcement]. I am law enforcement. So there is no foundation there at all.”
With roughly 49,000 requested mail-in ballots unaccounted for and Gordon facing a nearly 46,000 ballot deficit, Garbarino is already looking ahead to the work he’s going to be tackling in Congress. Not unlike the bipartisan message he shares with President-Elect Biden, the Sayville native knows future hurdles are going to involve plenty of working across the aisle.
“As a neighborhood and nation, we are faced with many hurdles ahead,” he said in a statement. “We must come together to solve these important issues as one community—not allow ourselves to continue to divide on political party lines. Of course everyone won’t agree on everything all the time and that’s okay. Taking different ideas and perspectives into consideration is important to efficiently and effectively find solutions to the problems we face. As your Congressman, I am excited to work with everyone and anyone to continue to move both our community and our country to new heights.”