Actor Ben Stiller knocked on doors with State Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes in south Brooklyn Monday afternoon, encouraging people to get out to vote on Tuesday.
Gounardes, a community advocate and counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, is challenging longtime Republican incumbent Sen. Marty Golden to represent Brooklyn’s 22nd District in Albany.
Stiller, a New York City native who currently lives in Chelsea, said Gounardes’ campaign “feels very organic and real,” in explaining why he was attracted to the candidate.
“You’re real, right?” he said jokingly to Gounardes. “You’re a real person?”
“You’re obviously motivated by your community and your family,” Stiller said on a more serious note to the candidate, a 33-year-old Bay Ridge native. He highlighted Gounardes’ progressive position on the climate as a key issue, as well as his commitment to putting up more speed cameras in the city and passing the Reproductive Health Act to codify Roe v. Wade in New York.
Gounardes is hoping the momentum insurgent Democrats across the city had in September’s primary elections will continue on Tuesday and flip the seat in District 22 from Republican to Democrat. Golden, meanwhile, has touted his relationship with the community and support he has gotten from both parties in the past. The retired police officer has said he doesn’t think the “Blue Wave” will hit his district.
Stiller said Monday was his first time canvassing for a candidate. Staff gave him quick training in how to approach voters.
“I’m going to study my script,” Stiller said, as he and Gounardes walked on 88th Street. He got “more and more nervous” when the first few doors went unanswered, he said.
Of the handful of people who answered their doors, some appeared unfazed by Stiller, while a few asked to take pictures and spent time discussing the issues with him.
“The pendulum has swung so far that we have to get back to some kind of middle ground,” one woman said standing outside her home.
“I agree…The level of discourse has gotten very base,” Stiller told her, but added that he is energized by people like Gounardes.
Stiller, who called canvassing “a little bit intimidating,” said he wanted to encourage people to vote at the state level, especially “in a blue state like New York, where sometimes you might think that your vote doesn’t count as much.
“On the state level, there are important decisions being made,” he said. “The New York State Legislature can turn on one vote.”
The race between Golden and Gounardes is the only State Senate race in New York City that could impact Republican control of the Senate — if Gounardes wins and all the seats currently filled by Democrats remain in their hands, Democrats would take control of the chamber.