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Apr 26, 2016 4:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Zeldin Sees Trump Support Staying Strong On East End

U.S Representative Lee Zeldin
Apr 27, 2016 8:01 AM

All spring U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin said he’d been hearing about Donald Trump from residents of his district.

At community meetings, in the crowds at parades, even waiting in line to board an airplane, the freshman congressman said he was hearing a lot of enthusiastic support for Mr. Trump.

That’s why he told reporters a month ago that he expected Mr. Trump to win in the 1st Congressional District by a broad margin, a prognostication that brought him some criticism from political teammates and opponents alike.

And when he was proven right by last week’s 73-percent support for Mr. Trump among district Republicans in the state’s presidential primary, Mr. Zeldin said he sees Mr. Trump’s popularity here carrying through as a presidential nominee.

Polling by his office in recent months, Mr. Zeldin said, shows that if the election were held this week, Mr. Trump would win in “a blowout” against the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“It’s not even close,” Mr. Zeldin, who has been careful not to offer an endorsement of any of the GOP presidential contenders, said on Tuesday of what he said polling has shown of a Trump-Clinton contest in the current political climate of the East End. “Of course, it’s difficult to handicap a race or speculate this far out.”

He noted that he also had expected to see a much closer split in votes between Ms. Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the 1st district than in the rest of the state—which also bore out in the results from the ballot boxes.

In conversations with 1st district voters, Mr. Zeldin said he’s heard a broad array of reasons for support for Mr. Trump, from his pledge to restore manufacturing jobs to repealing Common Core and the Affordable Care Act to, perhaps most controversially, his pledge to “build a wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Voters have called Mr. Trump “a straight shooter” and said they think his willingness to buck the national Republican establishment as well as unleash salvos of insults at Democrats shows that he will not be beholden to power brokers if elected president, Mr. Zeldin recalled.

With Mr. Trump looking increasingly likely to wrap up the Republican nomination with leads in several Northeastern states holding primaries this week, Mr. Zeldin said he is not sure how the firebrand candidate will affect his own first reelection bid this fall.

Whether Mr. Trump’s hyperbole and impetuous approach to traditional political maneuvering will bring out waves of new Republican voters who would be expected to also support the Republican Mr. Zeldin down the ballot, or whether he’ll spur blowback turnout for the other side of the aisle, remains a wild card.

“Trump’s candidacy has energized a lot of people in many different ways,” Mr. Zeldin said, also discounting the effect he thinks the national candidates have on the local candidates from the same ticket. “There is too often this heavy emphasis on the top of the ticket as if that decides every election down the ballot. It can make a difference in a tight race, you’d rather be on the side of the winner at the top of the ticket, but it doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing.”

Likewise, on the Democratic side, with Ms. Clinton on the ballot, Mr. Zeldin said he was unsure of whether Anna Throne-Holst would receive a particular boost from larger female voter turnout, or whether David Calone would get a leg up from those voters who carried Mr. Sanders to such a strong showing in the district.

As for who he would prefer to run his campaign against if he had a choice:

“My preference,” he said, wryly, “is to run against whoever loses that primary.”

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...thank you, Captain Obvious
By loading... (575), quiogue on Apr 27, 16 11:12 AM
... who cares what the voters think in the district. What do YOU think, Zelmo? Who are you endorsing? What's the holdup?
By William Rodney (546), southampton on Apr 27, 16 4:50 PM
What a DYNAMO!
By highhatsize (4118), East Quogue on Apr 28, 16 9:17 AM
Typically, Lee Zeldin oversimplifies and underestimates his potential opponents. His reflexive Trump-esque reference to Anna Throne-Holst and women voters is characteristically superficial. Mr. Zeldin should know that beyond women, Ms. Throne-Holst will have support among the many developers she has helped (and who have helped her), the merchants for whom she fought the plastic bag ban almost to the last ditch, and short-sighted voters who approve balancing budgets at the cost of necessary staff ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1955), Quiogue on Apr 28, 16 10:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
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