Santos takes on Zimmerman in NY's 3rd Congressional district race on Long Island

Stacey Sager Image
Wednesday, November 2, 2022
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Robert Zimmerman and George Santos are competing to win New York's 3rd Congressional race in Nassau County. Stacey Sager has more.

NASSAU COUNTY (WABC) -- New York may be a deep blue state and NYC may have a splash of red on Staten Island - but a few miles east in Nassau County, there is a close race for the 3rd Congressional district.

Both candidates are openly gay - but that may be the most they have in common. In terms of politics, they are miles apart.

Robert Zimmerman and George Santos hit the diners on Wednesday and hoped to show voters a more moderate side than what is being shown in all the negative ads.

Zimmerman, 68, is a Democrat and businessman who knows the 3rd District - the North Shore of Nassau into Queens.

"Whether it's dealing with jet plane noise and helicopter noise in our congressional district, whether it's dealing with the issue of protecting our water quality, whether it's about putting gun safety legislation in place," Zimmerman said.

His opponent is Republican George Santos, a 34-year-old financier with a sense of humor who knows what it's like to lose - after running against Tom Suozzi for the very same seat in 2020.

But now it's different he said.

"Mitigating and fighting inflation to make sure we're not hurting every American either on a fixed income or trying to start a career, young families trying to start their lives, especially here in this district, which is really expensive," Santos said.

The fact that both candidates are openly gay is making history in a Congressional race.

"Growing up as a closeted gay kid in the 1970s, I used to hang out at the diner actually on a Friday night,I didn't want to admit to my folks I didn't have a date for the dance," Zimmerman said.

"Not every gay person needs to be a Democrat, you can also be a conservative," Santos said. "Because I'll tell you it was a lot easier coming out gay, than a Republican in this state."

And as they brought politics for lunch, it was easy to see nothing was off the table with voters.

One voter asked Santos if he would support Donald Trump if he was the nominee.

"Look, quite frankly, I supported him in '16," Santos said. "I'm very honest about that. Right now? I don't know."

Both candidates will face an uphill battle.

"I like some of the things these are saying, I like some of the things those are saying, but basically I hate them both," one voter said.

ALSO READ | Gillen vs. D'Esposito: Race tightens in NY's 4th Congressional district

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