Perry Gershon, Congressional Candidate

October 11, 2018

Videography by Mehmet S. Yildirim

Perry Gershon never thought he would run for office… until Trump was elected.  Instead of sitting around and stewing about it for four years, he decided to run for Congress.  In this video, hear what motivates him and his advice.

Who is Perry Gershon? Perry is a native New Yorker who spent 25 years as a commercial real estate lender before starting his political career. Even back in his real estate days, Perry  learned to never do a deal with Donald Trump, who was considered an “untouchable” by those in the know. With this inside knowledge, imagine how he felt when he learned Trump was running for president...

What made Perry run? The tipping point for Perry took place when he visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC with his son during the 2016 presidential campaign. He was immediately struck by the similarities between Nazi Germany and Trump rallies.  This terrified him and when Trump won later that year, he went into a depression for a few days until he decided he had to do something. He wasn’t sure what that something would be until a few months later when he was at a fundraiser for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who said, “If you want to do something for the resistance, run for office.” That was the lightbulb moment.  Perry turned to his wife Lisa and said, “I’m going to run against Lee Zeldin!” (Lee Zeldin = GOP Congressman/Trump flunky in NY’s first congressional district, ie bad dude.)

How did he do it? It was all about the grassroots. Perry made his fateful statement to Lisa in May 2017. Then he picked up the phone and talked to a LOT of people, including anyone and everyone who knew about NY politics. He filed with the Federal Election Commission in July and by November, he was already being seen as a serious contender. It helped that he had a lot of support from the real estate community where he was known for his integrity, honesty and ability to work with people of different backgrounds.  The point here is that this kind of thing doesn’t have to take years, for Perry it was 11 months from filing to winning the primary.

What challenges has he faced? For one thing, he was always the behind the scenes guy in real estate, never the salesman.  And when you’re in politics, you’re in sales. Along with that came the challenge of public speaking. In the beginning, it was rocky but as he stuck with it and practiced, it started to feel like second nature. Then there’s also the total loss of privacy when you enter the public sphere and the complete exhaustion of running a campaign, but none of that is stopping him.

What keeps him going. Connecting with the people of the district has been inspiring and humbling.  They have kept him going by volunteering, donating and cheering him on when he’s most exhausted.  A marathon runner, Perry likens their support to the cheering crowd that gets you through the moment when you hit your wall. The support of his family has also been crucial. Lisa goes to virtually all his events with him. One son is running his campaign office and the other son, while home from college, spent the summer knocking on doors. His parents even did a tv commercial for him.  

Greatest inspiration? Robert Kennedy, because he was a centrist who united the Democratic party. Like RFK, Perry wants to be a uniter, not a divider.  

Advice for those who want to run for office: Trust your gut instinct. The mistakes he has made have been when he didn’t listen to his gut. And be yourself.

What will he do in Congress?  Perry’s goal is simple. He wants to be an old school politician who will help make people’s lives better.  He was known for bringing people together in business and he wants to do the same thing in Congress by working across the aisle to invest in infrastructure, bringing jobs and growing wages in Suffolk County.

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