Zimmerman holds early lead in Congressional District 3 Democratic primary race

Democratic candidate Robert Zimmerman (photo courtesy of Ed Shin).

As of Wednesday morning, Aug. 24., Robert Zimmerman is leading in the Congressional District 3 primary with 9,482 votes (35.20%), with all scanners reported, according to the state Board of Elections. In Queens, Zimmerman received 42.43% of the votes (2,720 votes).

Zimmerman is leading Jon Kaiman (25.55% of the vote), Joshua Lafazan (19.66%), Melanie D’Arrigo (15.58%), and Reema Rasool (2.45%), according to the state Board of Elections. Once the results are certified, the winner of the primary will face off against Republican nominee George Devolder-Santos in the general election Nov. 8.

The seat was previously occupied by Thomas Suozzi, who left to run for Governor of New York. He had occupied the seat since 2017. Suozzi has endorsed Lafazan to be his successor.

The third Congressional District occupies northwestern Suffolk County and northern Nassau County on Long Island, as well as the northeast Queens neighborhoods of Bayside, Douglaston, Douglas Manor, Little Neck, Beechhurst and Whitestone.

Democratic candidate Jon Kaiman casts his vote at Elizabeth Baker School in Great Neck (photo courtesy of Jon Kaiman’s office).

There had been concerns going into the day of the primary election of a low turnout. The early voting numbers in New York City reflect this to be the case, with Queens having the second-lowest amount of early voters among the boroughs at 4,900. Among the factors some voters and poll workers believe to be the reason for this are due to redistricting, the fact only one party has a primary and the likelihood that many people in the area are on vacation this time of year.

Zimmerman worked as a senior aide for Congressmen Lester Wolff and James Scheuer before advising Representative Gary Ackerman. In the mid-1980s, he traveled with Congressman Steve Israel to the Soviet Union to help Christians and Jews flee oppression, harassment and imprisonment for practicing their faith.

He was nominated by President Clinton to serve on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Presidential Commission on the Arts and by President Obama to serve on the National Council on the Humanities. Zimmerman is also a board member for the Center for an Urban FutureReach Out America and the White Lotus Foundation. Additionally, he’s served on the board of the American Museum of Natural History as a government representative for 20 years. The LGBTQ Network of LI and Queens and the Long Island Progressive Coalition have both honored Zimmerman. He also served as President of Great Neck B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Congress Long Island Division.

Zimmerman received endorsements from several current and former community leaders from both Long Island and Queens leading up to the primaries. Among those who endorsed him are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Assembly Members Edward Braunstein, David Weprin, Alicia Hyndman, Clyde Vanel and Danny Rosenthal, Congresswoman Grace Meng, former Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Congressmen Greg Meeks and Gary Ackerman, former Congressman Steve Israel, Senator Leroy Comrie and former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

“A long time ago, our Congressional District wasn’t just Nassau and Queens,” Zimmerman said. “They gave us Westchester and the Bronx. I turned to great borough presidents for guidance and support, and was so blessed to be honored and endorsed by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and former Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr.”

Kaiman worked as a private attorney before serving as Deputy County Executive of Suffolk County, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor, Nassau County District Court Judge, New York State Advisor for SuperStorm Sandy Recovery and Chairman of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority. He served five terms as the supervisor for the Town of North Hempstead before becoming Deputy County Executive of Suffolk County. He previously ran against Suozzi in the 2016 third Congressional District primary, but came up short.

“It would be an honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to serve the NY third in Congress,” Kaiman said.

Upon being elected to the Nassau County Legislature in 2017, Lafazon, 23 years old at the time, became the county’s youngest serving legislator of all time. He has since been reelected two more times to serve the county’s 18th Legislative District. He has authored and passed 15 bills into law during his time in office.

According to Lafazan, if he doesn’t end up victorious in the primary or general election, he intends tor return to serving in the Nassau County Legislature.

“I am confident that with my record on important issues such as protecting Roe, championing gun reform and addressing health care, seniors and veterans, coupled with my common sense approach to tackling crime, inflation and our affordability crisis, Democrats in Queens will support me on Election Day,” Lafazan said shortly before polls closed.