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Fleming for Congress

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 19:51

Editorial

There are times when voters are faced with a critical choice. This is one of those times, in which a dysfunctional administration led by an incompetent president must be held to account by the people. So, too, must Donald J. Trump’s supporters in Congress own much of the blame for a government run amok, which pulls out of international agreements, cozies up to dictators, and wants to turn the military on its own citizens.

During his time in a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, Representative Lee Zeldin did nothing to serve as part of a constitutional system of checks and balances. Now in the minority after historic Democratic gains in the 2018 midterm elections, he has remained one of the president’s most loyal followers.

There are plenty of substantive reasons for New York First District voters to consider a candidate other than Mr. Zeldin. Among them is that he has gone underground, appearing in public only now and then at carefully staged venues. He also is a staunch opponent of gun-law reform and realistic immigration policy. His record on the environment is terrible, siding with industry nearly all of the time. In a recent vote, he opposed an amendment that would have closed a loophole in the Clean Water Act that allowed companies to discharge unlimited amounts of PFAS chemicals and provide $100 million a year to help municipal sewage treatment plants contain the chemicals — some right here on Long Island. Defeating him in November should be a priority for East End voters.

Choosing the right person to take on Mr. Zeldin in the general election is the task of registered Democrats, who will have the opportunity in a June 23 primary among four challengers. These are Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, Nancy Goroff, Greg Fischer, and Perry Gershon. Mr. Gershon ran against Mr. Zeldin in 2018 and lost in a year in which Democratic candidates from coast to coast were helped by public antipathy toward the president. If Mr. Gershon could not win in that climate, there is nothing other than his own persistence to suggest he might reverse that outcome this fall.

For us, the choice is between Ms. Fleming and Ms. Goroff, who are running neck and neck in a recent poll. Ms. Goroff, a professor of chemistry at the State University at Stony Brook, is a compelling candidate. Actual scientists are too few in Congress, and she has vowed to make climate change a top issue. She does not have experience as an elected official, however, which Legislator Fleming does.

Ms. Fleming got her start in politics a decade ago when she won a special election for the Southampton Town Board, but she got her start as a lawyer and assistant district attorney in Manhattan’s Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit, and later as the chief of a unit devoted to attacking fraud in public programs.  She has been member of the Suffolk County Legislature since 2015. During this time, she has earned a reputation as a politician who shows up, whether at a massive women’s rights event or a backyard gathering to support a tiny nonprofit organization.

Among her key interests has been supporting innovations in wastewater technology, the environment, public transportation, farming, and human rights. A proven winner, Bridget Fleming has a record that the other primary candidates cannot match. She is the right choice to take First District concerns all the way to Washington.


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