Nancy Goroff, a Secular Jew from New York, Wins Democratic Primary for Congress July 9, 2020

Nancy Goroff, a Secular Jew from New York, Wins Democratic Primary for Congress

New York held its primaries on June 23, but the absentee ballots weren’t counted until this week, which delayed some of the closer results.

This afternoon, Stony Brook University scientist Nancy Goroff officially won the primary for the state’s 1st Congressional District, defeating Perry Gershon (who lost the race in 2018), setting up a head-to-head matchup against Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin this November.

In a Facebook post, Gershon announced that he had conceded and that Goroff had won by a remarkably close 630 votes. (Newsday says “Goroff had 17,905 total votes to Gershon’s 17,275, according to elections results that have yet to be certified.”)

Why is any of this relevant here?

If Goroff wins the race this November, she would be the first and only female non-theist in Congress. She would also be the first female Ph.D. scientist!

According to the Freethought Equality Fund PAC, which endorsed her candidacy, Goroff is a self-described “secular Jew” who has one hell of an impressive résumé:

For the past twenty-two years, Goroff has taught at Stony Brook University and for the past two and a half years she has served as chair of the Chemistry Department. She will bring her academic training and experience to Congress to “trust the facts, find solutions, and work with everyone with good ideas.” Her policy priorities include: taking action to address the climate crisis, expanding access to quality affordable health care, defending reproductive rights, amending the Civil Rights Act to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community, developing innovate and good paying jobs in her district, and passing common sense gun legislation to end gun violence. Goroff identifies as a secular Jew.

While I’m personally excited about the possibility of having another non-theist in politics, it would be incredible for the country to have a career scientist in Congress — certainly over another Trump-loving Republican.

But it won’t be an easy race. In 2016, Zeldin won with 58% of the vote. In 2018, however, he won with only 52%.

The Cook Political Report considers this a “likely Republican” seat… But look at the options. The choices couldn’t be more different.

There’s one immensely qualified candidate… and Lee Zeldin.

It took every vote for Goroff to win the primary, and you can expect a tight race this November. If you’d like to donate to her campaign, you can do so here.


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