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Tim Bishop

Setauket native David Calone, left, barely trails former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, right, after Tuesday’s primary election. File photos

Polls closed Tuesday at 9 p.m. for the Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional District, but voters still have to wait to find out who will face freshman U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) come November.

Setauket native David Calone trailed former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst by 29 votes by the end of Tuesday, unofficial Suffolk County Board of Elections results showed, but neither candidate felt comfortable enough to speak definitively about the race.

Unofficial results showed Throne-Holst with 5,446 votes — 50.09 percent of the vote — and Calone with 5,417 votes — 49.82 percent.

Calone, a former prosecutor, venture capitalist, and North Shore native, said his campaign would be waiting for the nearly 1,700 absentee ballots to be counted in the coming week before making any further statements on his status in the primary race.

“We did not have Wall Street fundraisers, and we did not have $720,000 of super PAC funding poured in for us in the last three weeks — but here we are in a virtual tie,” Calone said Wednesday. “I cannot begin to thank all the volunteers and supporters who have put their hearts and souls into this campaign over the past year. Together, we knocked on thousands of doors, held nearly fifty house parties, and made tens of thousands of phone calls to voters in every corner of this district.”

By the end of the primary campaign, Calone received several endorsements from various elected officials and community groups, including state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station).

Calone has experience working as director of six privately held companies throughout the country and has helped organize the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the U.S. House of Representatives, advocating federal policies that promote job creation through the development of startups and other small businesses. In that role, he helped launch Startup Day Across America, an event to connect federal officials with early-stage companies in their regions. He also founded the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund, which provides funding to six early-stage companies based on technology developed at Long Island’s research institutions.

Throne-Holst, who received support from Zeldin’s predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) — who Throne-Holst said was pivotal in convincing her to run — spoke with gravitas about her standing after all voting district tallies were in Tuesday night, excluding absentee votes.

“We are waiting for all votes to be counted,” she said in a statement, “but are proud to have a lead at the end of election night. We are confident going forward that victory will be ours now … and in November.”

Throne-Holst co-founded the Hayground School — an elementary school dedicated to supporting children with different learning needs. After serving as a councilwoman, she was the first Democrat to be elected supervisor in Southampton since 1993, overcoming a red-leaning electorate on the East End.

Zeldin unseated the six-term Democrat Bishop by a wide margin back in 2014, with a final vote total of his 54 percent to 45 percent.

“While the two Democrats continue to slug it out against each other beyond a primary with historically low voter turnout, I remain focused on my work to pursue my ‘New Era of American Strength’ agenda to protect America’s security at home and abroad, help grow our economy, support our veterans and first responders, improve health care and the quality of education, repair our nation’s infrastructure and safeguard our environment,” Zeldin said in a statement.

Out in the more western 3rd Congressional District, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) bested four other candidates vying for the nomination to run for Israel’s seat after the longtime incumbent said he would not seek re-election earlier this year.

Anna Throne-Holst. Photo by Phil Corso

By Phil Corso

The Democrats’ race to regain the 1st Congressional District is on, as a former Southampton Town supervisor has stepped up to challenge for the red seat.

Anna Throne-Holst photo by Phil Corso
Anna Throne-Holst photo by Phil Corso

Anna Throne-Holst had a potential final term at the head of Southampton’s town board, but declined to run so she could free herself up for a congressional campaign. She, along with Setauket native Dave Calone, will face off in a federal primary on June 28 to determine who will run against freshman U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in November.

Zeldin unseated six-term Democrat Tim Bishop by a wide margin — 54 percent of the vote to 45 percent — in a contentious election back in 2014, and saw Democratic challengers stepping up to reclaim the spot within a matter of months. Throne-Holst entered the race in the latter half of 2015 and has been aggressive in her attacks against the Republican lawmaker ever since.

In a sit-down with TBR News Media, Throne-Holst described Zeldin as a conservative, climate change-denier who votes largely along party lines.

“When we have legislators who are focusing on being destructive rather than constructive, I think it’s time to make a positive change,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse with Lee Zeldin. He has just voted straight down the line.”

Government tracking website GovTrack reported 45 percent of Zeldin’s 11 bills and resolutions had both Democratic and Republican cosponsors in 2015. The site also showed Zeldin cosponsored 116 bills and resolutions introduced by other members of Congress, rating his willingness to work with others to advance policy goals as second lowest among the New York delegation.

Jennifer DiSiena, a spokeswoman for Zeldin, said Zeldin has pursued an aggressive agenda on behalf of his constituents on Long Island, working to protect America’s security at home and abroad, help grow the economy, support veterans and first responders, improve the quality of education, repair the nation’s infrastructure and safeguard the environment.

“Congressman Zeldin has been working all day, every day across party lines, delivering results on important issues facing his constituents,” DiSiena said in a statement. “He has been recognized as the top freshman Republican likely to co-sponsor legislation with members of the opposite party.

“Congressman Zeldin believes the climate has always been changing. Instead of taking a position on so many issues that matter most to NY-1 voters, these two Democratic candidates are desperately trying to distract and deflect, to throw up anything at all against the wall to see what politically charged attack can stick.”

Throne-Holst said she had a proven track record while serving in elected office that could translate to the national level.

Before entering public office, Throne-Holst co-founded the Hayground School — an elementary school dedicated to supporting children with different learning needs. After serving as a councilwoman, she was the first Democrat to be elected supervisor in Southampton since 1993, overcoming a heavy red-leaning electorate on the East End. She touted her experience as supervisor working to reduce spending and help the town achieve a AAA bond rating. She worked closely with Stony Brook University, helping to secure funding for a clean water research center and seeking ways to improve Long Island’s septic system technologies. She also said she supported bipartisan efforts to preserve Southampton’s shorelines, resulting in the saving of 1,200 acres of open space.

She has garnered support from some of the Democratic Party’s biggest players, including Bishop, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who Throne-Holst said was pivotal in convincing her to run.

“Anna is exactly what we need in Congress,” Israel said in an email. “She has strengthened the community with job creation and launched economic growth with downtown revitalization.”

If elected, Throne-Holst would be the first woman to represent the 1st District, which covers virtually the entirety of eastern Long Island from Smithtown outward.

Her campaign has raised close to $1.1 million, compared to Calone’s $907,000.

Her Democratic opponent has collected key endorsements too — from State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Sag Harbor) and East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell (D). In a previous interview, Calone, who has never held elected office, said his hands-on experience helping Long Island businesses thrive was a driving force behind his decision to run. He works as CEO of Jove Equity Partners LLC, a venture capital firm that helps start and build technology companies.

“This area was a great place to grow up and a lot of my classmates have already left and don’t come back,” he said in June 2015. “We need to be a leader in the economy of New York and worldwide.”

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U.S. Rep. Steve Israel is stepping aside at the end of the year, declining to run for another term in the House this November, after what will be 16 years as the Democratic representative for the Huntington and Smithtown areas. But his departure will affect more than just western Suffolk County.

Long Island residents in general should be paying attention to the 3rd Congressional District seat in the coming year. Our officials at the federal and state levels work with their neighboring colleagues to get things done that benefit Long Island — sometimes in a quid pro quo sort of way. That means that no matter the elected body or who our representative is, the priorities and the character of the person who is elected in the next district over from us are important. And with Israel gone, no matter who is elected to replace him, Suffolk County will have two longtime congressman exiting in two years, after Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) unseated Democrat Tim Bishop in 2014.

That’s not to say that new blood is a bad thing.

Zeldin kept himself busy during his first year in the House, authoring several bills. Most recently, he introduced the Earnings Contingent Education Loans (ExCEL) Act of 2015, which aims to help young people manage their federal student loan debt by making the repayment system more flexible, with payment amounts based on the borrower’s salary. And in interviews with this newspaper, Zeldin has called being a newcomer a positive — party leadership supports their freshmen, he said, because they want to help them retain their seats.

We appreciate Israel’s long service to our community. That being said, electing a new point of view to Congress has the potential to be a good thing for Long Island, which is in a state of flux as we try to plan our economic and environmental future.

3rd District candidates, all eyes are on you.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, above, speaks to local residents, business and organization members at “Meet Congressman Zeldin” on Wednesday, Sept. 16 in the Gillespie meeting room in the Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages. Photo by Giselle Barkley

He’s new to D.C., but not to some of the North Shore’s most pressing issues.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) addressed people from Three Village businesses and organizations early Wednesday morning on Sept. 16 in his “Meet Congressman Zeldin” breakfast in the Gillespie meeting room in the Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages. The meeting gave Zeldin the opportunity to discuss his past several months in office after he was sworn in back in January and to address issues he said he wants to tackle during his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Some of the more pressing issues, he said, included affordability, supporting local business owners and enhancing the quality of life for Long Islanders of the First Congressional District.

“We’re losing a lot of our friends and our family as our families get split apart moving down to North Carolina and South Carolina and Florida because they can’t afford to get by here,” Zeldin said while discussing Long Island’s cost of living and it’s impact on community members.

He added that some small business owners experienced or are going through tough times as they may struggle between paying their employees and paying their sales tax or other bills associated with their business.

“There needs to be a fundamental re-calibration and better understanding from different levels of government, as to how a small business is able to grow and create new jobs,” Zeldin said as a suggestion to help business stay afloat and create more jobs in the community.

He admitted that one piece of legislation would not be enough to address every business owners’ concerns or needs. As he continued discussing businesses and Long Island’s economy, Zeldin also voiced his opinion on U.S. President Barack Obama’s $15 minimum wage proposal saying that the increase is not nearly sufficient for Long Island residents — especially those who own homes and raise their family.

Long Island’s veteran population and education issues were also a topic of debate as Zeldin discussed his past eight months in congress. One of Zeldin’s first pieces of legislation to pass kept the government from financially penalizing states if schools wanted to withdraw from the controversial Common Core learning standards.

Throughout the breakfast, Zeldin emphasized that he is not the type of politician who will turn away from a difficult issue or decision. He acknowledged that making tough decisions may cost him votes, but he will support what he believes to be right for his community. The statement left those in attendance very pleased.

“I really feel like he listens to the issues that are going on at hand,” said Elizabeth Folk, owner and licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist at Hand on Health and Wellness in Stony Brook. “He seems very genuine with his speaking. I like the fact that he doesn’t care about the cost of losing his votes if it’s an issue that’s very important to him if [his opinion] is unpopular.”

Members of the museum said they agreed with Folk. Deirdre Doherty, director of development for the museum, said that Zeldin’s desire to improve the Long Island economy is not only genuine, but will also assist businesses like the museum.

“Museums go beyond just offering a cultural experience,” Doherty said. “They really have socially impactful programs. We educate over 12,000 students a year. So if the local businesses are healthy, then we can be healthy.”

Regina Miano, special events manager of the museum, said she thought Zeldin’s event was also a good way for Three Villagers to interact with Zeldin saying, “it was great to have him as a new congressman…to be here and speak at the museum…to introduce himself to people that have probably never spoken to him, [it was great].”

Zeldin also highlighted the importance of meet-and-greets with the voters such as these where residents can meet the political figures that are in charge of addressing their concerns and needs.

“Accessibility is important because as an elected representative, constituents need to know that the person they elect to office is representing their passion,” Zeldin said in an interview before the breakfast. “At the same time the elected official needs to be out in the public to listen so that he or she is as tuned in as possible to the top priorities of people elected to serve.”

Dave Calone has had his eye on the 1st Congressional District representative since the election last November, and he has already seen enough.

Challenger Dave Calone wants to unseat Congressman Lee Zeldin. Photo from Maria Hoffman
Challenger Dave Calone wants to unseat Congressman Lee Zeldin. Photo from Maria Hoffman

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) unseated six-term Democrat Tim Bishop by a wide margin — 54 percent of the vote to 45 percent — but Calone, a Setauket native and Port Jefferson high school graduate, said the new congressman’s voting record has motivated him to throw his hat into the ring.

“He’s out of step with Long Island and what we need to do to grow this economy,” said Calone, who works as CEO of Jove Equity Partners LLC, a venture capital firm that helps start and build technology companies. “I was disappointed to see Tim lose because I thought he had done a good job. When I saw the [floor] votes Zeldin was taking, I felt it was very partisan voting.”

Government tracking website OpenCongress reported Zeldin has voted along party lines 94 percent of the time since taking office in January. Of those votes, Calone said he took issue with Zeldin’s positions in favor of Republican budget plans that cut Homeland Security funding, and he disagreed with the congressman’s remarks referring to President Barack Obama as a monarch.

Jennifer DiSiena, a spokeswoman for Zeldin, said with 17 months until the next election, the congressman would be focusing his efforts on improving the lives of the middle class and not engaging in politics.

“Congressman Zeldin has been working across party lines since day one,” she said in a statement. “He has been recognized as the top Freshman Republican likely to co-sponsor legislation with members of the opposite party. He has also broken from party lines on critical votes to protect working class residents of Long Island. While people make false accusations regarding the congressman, Lee Zeldin is working tirelessly for the residents of Long Island. These people can continue to throw mud and lies about the congressman, but the residents of the First [Congressional] District are smarter than that.”

Calone is director of six privately held companies throughout the country and has helped organize the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the U.S. House of Representatives, advocating federal policies that promote job creation through the development of startups and other small businesses.

In that role, he helped launch Startup Day Across America, an event to connect federal officials with early-stage companies in their region. He also founded the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund, which provides funding to six early-stage companies based on technology developed at Long Island’s research institutions.

Congressman Lee Zeldin. File photo
Congressman Lee Zeldin. File photo

Calone said his hands-on experience helping Long Island businesses thrive was a driving force behind his decision to challenge Zeldin, and he hoped to apply his experience working to keep his hometown attractive, and retain residents living there.

“What I want to bring is someone who helped start and grow businesses across Long Island,” he said. “This area was a great place to grow up and a lot of my classmates have already left and don’t come back. We need to be a leader in the economy of New York and worldwide.”

Since 2008, Calone has worked as chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission. He also helped initiate the county’s first comprehensive plan effort in nearly 40 years.

On the local level, Calone has already garnered support from various political leaders and community activists. His campaign committee is headed by Virginia Capon, president of the Three Village Democratic Club, and he has received early support from Tony Parlatore, chair of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee.

“Dave Calone has never run for office before, but he is a lifelong supporter of Democratic values,” Parlatore said. “His father was an engineer and local chamber of commerce leader and his mother was an elementary school teacher here in our community. He is well respected in our region for his work to cut government red tape and enact policies that support job growth. He also has been a leader in protecting Suffolk County’s natural environment by fighting to protect our waters and has been nationally recognized for creating policies that promote renewable energy usage across Long Island.”

As a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice Honors Program, Calone worked on prosecuting cases involving international economic crime and terrorism — efforts for which he was named a recipient of the 2003 Attorney General’s Award.

Calone is an honors graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He lives with his wife Kate, a Presbyterian minister, and their three children.