Democratic strategists say it was understandable why Ms. Goroff might be reluctant to alienate potential Republican voters by aggressively attacking the president. “There is probably a smaller group of people that are true undecided and persuadable for both sides, and that’s always where you win,” said Keith Davies, the spokesman for the Suffolk County Democratic Committee. “I think threading that needle is important, even more so than in years past.”
Treading gently between parties is perhaps even more essential to win the neighboring congressional seat being vacated by Mr. King, who is retiring after 28 years in the House, and who has endorsed Mr. Garbarino as his replacement.
In recent years, Mr. King’s re-election margins have slimmed to single digits as the district’s demographics and geographic borders have changed. Minorities make up more than a quarter of Nassau residents, according to the United States census, and a third of the district is now in Nassau County, where the Democratic shift led to the upset in 2018 of three Republican state senators, delivering the State Senate to Democratic control for the first time in a decade.
In an interview, Mr. Garbarino, who is running on a law-and-order platform, pointed out that he sided with the Democrats in his frustration with president’s decision to cap state and local taxes, or SALT. “Long Island has always been a split ticket voter; they vote for the person, they don’t just vote for the party,” Mr. Garbarino said.
Seeing an opportunity, Democratic supporters and outside groups have poured cash into the race. The Democratic opponent, Jackie Gordon, a public-school teacher and a 29-year veteran of the Army Reserve who served in the Iraq war, has vastly outraised Mr. Garbarino with over $3 million to her opponent’s approximately $1.4 million.
Still more outside funding has poured into the race, including over $3 million dedicated to opposing Mr. Garbarino, who has about $400,000 cash on hand, while his competitor has over $577,000.
Ms. Gordon, an immigrant from Jamaica, is not taking any chances, publicly praising Mr. King’s record while identifying as a moderate. Seen by some as representing the changing demographics of the island, Ms. Gordon and her team remain keenly aware of the dual ideologies of Long Island voters.