Fresh off of her June primary win, first-time congressional candidate Jackie Gordon, a Democratic former Babylon town councilwoman and military veteran, kicked off her general election campaign in the 2nd District on June 13 with a celebratory Zoom videoconference. Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer and New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli joined the festivities, and congratulated Gordon on her primary success as well as her fundraising prowess: She brought in nearly $800,000 from April to June, bringing her total to $1.6 million, with $1.1 million in cash on hand.
In that three-month span, Gordon, who is seeking to become Seaford Republican U.S. Rep. Peter King’s successor, received donations from more than 6,800 donors. Her campaign administrators reported that 90 percent of the donations were $100 or less.
“I’m proud to have the support of so many Long Islanders who are stepping up to contribute their time and hard-earned dollars to support our campaign,” Gordon said. “Voters want to see a change in Washington. They want a representative who will fight to expand access to health care, take care of our veterans and support our small businesses. Together, we’re building a grass-roots, people-powered campaign that will deliver for Long Island.”
Suffolk County Legislator Jason Richberg was one of the first voices to be heard during Gordon’s virtual campaign kickoff. She was Richberg’s guidance counselor at North Babylon High School 20 years ago.
“I’m here because of Jackie Gordon . . . 17 to 20 years ago, Jackie stood by me and pushed me forward,” Richberg said. “Today I’m happy to do the same thing. This isn’t something I wrote down; it’s from the heart. I will help lead from the front, because that’s what Jackie does.”
DiNapoli noted Gordon’s stick-to-itiveness in fighting to represent the district amid the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic. He stressed the importance of looking out for taxpayers, gaining access to college, as well as vocational and technical training, for more people, and moving toward providing health care for all.
DiNapoli, who is a native of Rockville Centre, playfully said that although a significant portion of the district is in Suffolk County, Gordon would be an “island-wide presence for all of us.”
“Jackie, when you get sworn in, these problems won’t go away, they’ll still be there,” DiNapoli said. “You’ve got the story; you’ve got the history. This is your time.”
He continued: “The country needs you, not just Long Island. I can’t think of anybody more prepared to be not just a spokesperson, but also someone to represent the change we want in this country. It is an honor to stand with you, even from afar.”
Schaffer focused on Gordon’s background in education, having been an educator since 1984 and most recently serving as a guidance counselor at Wilson Technological Center in Farmingdale. “As an educator, I know you will use your extensive experience in the classroom to bring to the halls of Congress, and maybe teach everyone in Washington a thing or two,” Schaffer said. “You know you have the full support of your Babylon town family, but we know we have to share you with the whole country.”
Gordon’s opponent in November will be Sayville Republican State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino. Garbarino had to postpone his own kickoff celebration because he was called back to Albany last week.
“We’re planning on having a virtual kickoff,” Garbarino explained. “I am working on timing between Representative King and I. I wouldn’t want to do it without him there. We have done smaller thank-yous. Based on what the governor’s office is saying, it will have to be virtual. But we’ll do it sometime in August.”
According to the Federal Election Commission, Garbarino’s campaign has raised over $438,000 to date, and has just over $104,000 cash in hand.
Despite his smaller war chest thus far, Garbarino has ample experience campaigning, especially during presidential election years. “This will not be my first presidential year on the ballot,” he said. “My first was in 2012, during President Obama’s re-election,” when Garbarino was elected to the Legislature. “Then again, when President Trump took office in 2016.
“But this was a campaign that no one had run before,” Garbarino continued. “You had to get your message to voters without actually meeting voters. It’s difficult . . . It’s too bad, how I grew up, being one-on-one with another person, looking people in the eye and talking to them. I don’t know if somebody can tell how sincere you are over Zoom. I think that could affect whether or not people believe what you’re saying. But that’s the world we’re in right now, and I can only be myself.”