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Former CNN anchor takes on professor in primary aimed at finding Democrat who can win on Long Island

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Former CNN anchor takes on professor in primary aimed at finding Democrat who can win on Long Island
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Former CNN anchor takes on professor in primary aimed at finding Democrat who can win on Long Island

2024-06-22 19:54 Last Updated At:20:00

A former CNN anchor and a retired chemistry professor are facing off in a Democratic primary to pick a challenger to U.S. Rep. Nick LaLota in an eastern Long Island congressional district that has been in Republican hands for a decade.

John Avlon, who was a senior political analyst at CNN, is running in Tuesday's election against Nancy Goroff, a professor emeritus at Stony Brook University. She was the Democratic candidate in the district in 2020, but lost by about 10 percentage points.

Democrats have made the suburban New York City district a priority this year in their bid to reclaim a majority in the House of Representatives. It's one of several districts in the reliably Democratic states of New York and California that are seen as crucial to their chances.

The race could hinge on personality and voters' views about which candidate gives Democrats the best chance to win. Their positions on policy matters are so similar that a local newspaper, The East Hampton Star, headlined its story about a recent debate between them: “Avlon and Goroff Debate, Largely Agree.”

Many Democrats, including local officials and incumbent members of Congress, have lined up behind Avlon as a fresh face who might have a better chance of toppling LaLota, the Republican incumbent.

“Republicans didn’t think they’d have to fight in this district,” Avlon said in an interview. “They didn’t think they’d have a real fight on their hands and now they do.”

But Goroff isn't rolling over. She loaned her own campaign $1.2 million, according to federal records, Her allies have also sought to attack Avlon for his early career job as a speechwriter in the office of Rudy Giuliani when he was the mayor of New York City.

She said she's confident a Democrat can win in the district, which stretches from the sandy Hamptons on the eastern tip of Long Island more than 80 miles westward to the outer ring of commuter suburbs east of New York City.

“I think it’s very much purple and we are working to make sure that in this district, we activate people who want to see someone who’s working hard," Goroff said in an interview. "Whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, they’re looking for someone who is actually willing to do the work."

The question looming after the primary is whether a Democrat can retake the seat from a Republican.

President Joe Biden won the district in 2020 by a very small margin, but Democratic state lawmakers changed its borders slightly earlier this year to make it slightly more Republican, potentially giving other Democrats on the island a better chance at winning their races.

Since losing her election bid in 2020 to then U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, Goroff helped start an advocacy group that organizes around politically fraught school board races. Her campaign says she successfully helped defeat 20 right-wing candidates.

Avlon is best known for his time as a CNN personality, but he also worked as an editor at The Daily Beast, an online news site. He also helped create the centrist political group No Labels and authored books on political polarization.

Both Democrats favor protecting abortion rights and warn against what a federal government controlled by Republicans could do to curtail women's reproductive rights more broadly. Their criticisms of LaLota are similar, characterizing the freshman congressman as too deferential to Donald Trump and more interested in political stardom than getting legislation across the line.

Both candidates point to a host of explanations for why Republicans have thrived in recent elections on Long Island, which has been receptive to conservative candidates in recent elections. Their explanations include lagging Democratic turnout, the strength of particular candidates and voter fears about crime in New York City spilling over into the suburbs.

In a statement, LaLota said, “While they fight to see who can appease the far left the most, I’m focused on putting results over rhetoric and fighting for the community I grew up in.”

One exception to the Republicans' success was the recent special election in a congressional district once represented by George Santos that includes parts of the New York City borough of Queens and northern Long Island. In that race, Democrat Tom Suozzi, an established political figure in the area, defeated a lesser-known Republican, Mazi Pilip. He did so in part by running a centrist campaign that Democrats hope to replicate in other suburban races in the fall.

Avlon hopes to duplicate that winning formula. He often talks about how Democrats need to pull in moderates and independent voters, as well as some Republicans who have grown dissatisfied with the GOP under Trump.

“There's a reason I'm running as a common sense Democrat,” he said. “In any swing district the candidate and the party who seizes the center will win.”

Ed Cox, chairman of the New York Republican Party, said it's going to be difficult for a Democrat to win on the island this year, especially in this district, given its shift to the GOP over the last decade and its more Republican-friendly configuration after redistricting.

“Long Island is once again a Republican bastion,” he said.

HOLD — This undated photo, provided by Goroff for Congress, June 10, 2024, shows Nancy Goroff, a Democrat candidate for Congress in New York's District 1. (Courtesy Goroff for Congress via AP)

HOLD — This undated photo, provided by Goroff for Congress, June 10, 2024, shows Nancy Goroff, a Democrat candidate for Congress in New York's District 1. (Courtesy Goroff for Congress via AP)

FILE — John Avlon attends The Hollywood Reporter's annual Most Powerful People in Media cocktail reception, at The Pool, April 11, 2019, in New York. Avlon is the incumbent Democrat candidate for Congress in New York's District 1. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

FILE — John Avlon attends The Hollywood Reporter's annual Most Powerful People in Media cocktail reception, at The Pool, April 11, 2019, in New York. Avlon is the incumbent Democrat candidate for Congress in New York's District 1. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

DETROIT (AP) — Shohei Ohtani's two-out RBI double gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a ninth-inning lead and they held on to beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 on Friday, ending a four-game losing streak.

The Dodgers, after getting swept in Philadelphia, trailed 3-0 after two innings.

“It was really important to get a (win) today,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I think we played really good and I'm glad it turned out well.”

Chris Taylor singled off Jason Foley (2-3) with one out in the ninth and took third on Austin Barnes' pinch-hit single off Tyler Holton. Gavin Lux popped out, but Ohtani hit a 0-1 sinker to the deepest part of the outfield for what appeared to be a two-run double.

However, the ball bounced into the shrubbery beyond the center-field fence, forcing Barnes to stop at third.

“All I wanted to do was get a base hit — just put the ball in play,” Ohtani said. “I was really hoping that ball would get through and it did.”

After Tigers manager A.J. Hinch intentionally walked Will Smith to load the bases, right fielder Wenceel Pérez made a sliding catch to rob Freddie Freeman of a two-run single.

“I don't think I've ever issued an intentional walk to pitch to someone like Freddie, but that's how good Will Smith is against lefties," Hinch said. “If Wenceel doesn't sell out on that ball, we might have not had a chance in the ninth.”

Daniel Hudson struck out Ryan Vilade to start the ninth, but walked Colt Keith and Pérez before retiring Matt Vierling and Riley Greene to record his fourth save.

The Dodgers trailed 3-2 in the eighth, but two-out singles by Smith and Freeman put runners on the corners. Foley came in, but Teoscar Hernández bounced a tying single between first and second.

Neither starter was involved in the decision. Tarik Skubal allowed two runs on two hits in six innings, striking out eight in his last start before the All-Star Game.

James Paxson allowed three runs on five hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings.

The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the first. With one out, Justyn-Henry Malloy singled, Vierling walked and Greene hit a two-run double into the right-center gap. Malloy made it 3-0 with a two-out triple in the second.

Skubal didn't allow a hit until Freeman homered with one out in the fourth. Andy Pages made it 3-2 with an RBI single later in the inning.

“The pitch to Freddie was right down the middle, but what is frustrating is the walk to Teoscar and then he comes around to score,” Skubal said. “They had two hits and a walk in that inning, but they didn't threaten much other than that.”

The Dodgers got the tying run to third in the seventh, but Will Vest struck out Miguel Vargas to end the inning.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts helped his team to two outs on the bases in the bottom of the seventh. Pérez led off the inning with a single and appeared to have stolen second, but the call was overturned on reply. With two outs, Blake Treinen needed another review to show he had picked Greene off first.

“Everything matters, especially in a close game,” Hinch said. “It's tough because Wenceel gets a big hit and steals on the first pitch. If he came off the base, it was barely. That's a key out, because you would have a runner on second with no one out.”

The game drew 42,060 fans, the first sellout at Comerica Park since a crowd of 44,711 for the home opener against the Oakland Athletics on April 5.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Dodgers: RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto (triceps) has begun throwing from 60 feet. ... INF Max Muncy (oblique) is still not swinging a bat. Roberts said he doesn't expect Muncy back before the trade deadline.

UP NEXT

The teams play the second of a three-game series Saturday afternoon with Dodgers LHP Justin Wrobleski (0-1, 7.20) facing RHP Keider Montero (1-2. 4.64).

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani drops his bat after hitting a double that bounced over the center field wall to drive in one run and take a lead over the Detroit tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani drops his bat after hitting a double that bounced over the center field wall to drive in one run and take a lead over the Detroit tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani celebrates after his double that bounced over the center field wall to drive in one run and take a lead over the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani celebrates after his double that bounced over the center field wall to drive in one run and take a lead over the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Tigers right fielder Wenceel Perez makes the catch on a fly ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman for the third out of the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Tigers right fielder Wenceel Perez makes the catch on a fly ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman for the third out of the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani hits a double that bounced over the center field wall to drive in one run and take a lead over the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani hits a double that bounced over the center field wall to drive in one run and take a lead over the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Tigers' Tarik Skubal pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Tigers' Tarik Skubal pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Tigers' Justyn-Henry Malloy dives into third base with an RBI-triple against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Tigers' Justyn-Henry Malloy dives into third base with an RBI-triple against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chris Taylor, left, takes out Detroit Tigers' Wenceel Perez (46) trying to steal second base during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chris Taylor, left, takes out Detroit Tigers' Wenceel Perez (46) trying to steal second base during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani hits a double that bounced over the center field wall to drive in one run and take a lead over the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani hits a double that bounced over the center field wall to drive in one run and take a lead over the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani, right, listens to Robert Van Scoyoc, left, during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani, right, listens to Robert Van Scoyoc, left, during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Friday, July 12, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

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