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David Calone

David Calone, left, with state Assemblyman Steve Englebright. The assemblyman is one of the local leaders who encouraged Calone to run for county executive. Photos from Calone’s campaign

A former congressional primary candidate is aiming for Suffolk County’s executive seat.

Last week, Setauket’s David Calone announced his intention to run for county executive on the Democratic ticket in 2023. Due to term limits, Steve Bellone (D) will not be running.

“I would bring a lot of different perspectives and a lot of backgrounds to the regional leadership of the county executive position,” Calone said in a phone interview. 

Running for the office is something he has been thinking about for a few months. The candidate said he became more committed to his goal after conversations with many who provided strong moral support, such as John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook).

Without any formal fundraisers, Calone has already raised nearly a million dollars for his campaign, he said.

Currently, Calone, a former federal and state prosecutor, is the only one who has thrown his hat in the ring, but candidates have until early next year to submit their petitions. If other candidates decide to run for county executive on the Democratic ticket, a primary would be held.

The candidate said he wanted to start campaigning early because Suffolk County is a vast area to cover.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with people across Suffolk County over this next year and hearing their ideas and issues, and then we can work to solve those challenges,” he said. 

When he ran in the Democratic primary for Congress in 2016 in the 1st Congressional District, he lost to former Town of Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst by a slim margin of slightly more than 300 votes. He said from the experience he learned how to run an extensive campaign.

“I was able to learn about all the issues affecting people across Suffolk County,” he said. “Many issues are common across the whole area, but there were also some very specific local issues,” adding while some may worry about environmental issues, in contrast others are trying to make ends meet.


Calone grew up in Mount Sinai and graduated from Port Jefferson high school. He went on to achieve his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his law degree from Harvard. He and his wife, Presbyterian minister Kate Jones Calone, have three children and moved to Setauket 10 years ago when Jones Calone joined Setauket Presbyterian Church.

While a federal prosecutor, his focus was terrorism and international corporate fraud. As a state prosecutor, he fought health care fraud, and won a case that, at the time, was one of the biggest returns of taxpayer money — more than $70 million, according to him.

He is president and CEO of Jove Equity Partners LLC, which helps to start companies and works with owners to build their businesses.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with people across Suffolk County over this next year and hearing their ideas and issues, and then we can work to solve those challenges.”

— David Calone

County issues

Calone listed protecting the environment, improving transportation and economic development among his biggest concerns.

Working in the private sector and being involved in various businesses for more than 15 years, he said experience has provided him with a good deal of knowledge regarding economic development.

The candidate said he believes in supporting small businesses and providing workforce development to make sure “people get the skills they need for the next generation of jobs.”

“I think it is going to be critically important, too, because we live in a very high cost area,” he said. “We need to have people getting good paying jobs to be able to afford to live here.”

His company also created the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund to help launch businesses coming out of local research labs, which in turn creates local jobs.

As board chair of Patriot Boot Camp, which was recently acquired by Disabled American Veterans, Calone has played a part in helping veterans, active military members and their spouses start their own businesses. He said while the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs holds job fairs, they don’t focus on entrepreneurship, which many military members may be well suited for due to being disciplined and hardworking

He also feels there are different ways to bring town governments together to address similar problems.

When he was chair for eight years of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, the group worked on streamlining solar panel permits throughout the county as each town had a different set of rules, which caused headaches for solar panel companies. The towns came together and agreed on one form, which made the process more streamlined, and the committee received the National Association of Counties 2012 National Achievement Award for the effort.

Calone said he would also like to improve transportation in the county, pointing out that many of the buses are empty or nearly empty and therefore a waste of fuel. He said he would like to see the pilot program that county Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) started in Southampton expanded to the whole county. When someone needs transportation, they use a cellphone app and smaller buses are used. He said requesting a bus would be similar to using Uber or Lyft and the service overall would be more efficient.

Regarding development in the county, he said developing near major roadways and travel hubs such as Ronkonkoma train station, as other elected officials have suggested in the past, makes sense. He also said it’s important to create more affordable housing.

“We need to have more housing that works for people at different times of their lives,” he said. “One of the key things is if young people move away, because they can’t find housing here, they’re more likely to stay away and not come back. But if we can keep them here because we have the kind of housing that they need, and the good-paying jobs that they need, they’re more likely to stay here and be the buyers of those single-family homes in the future.”

Setauket native David Calone, left, was defeated in the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District by Anna Throne-Holst, left, Friday.

This post was updated at 11 a.m. on July 13 to include an official vote count.

After more than a week of waiting, it is now known which Democrat will square off against freshman U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in the race for the 1st Congressional District seat this November.

Former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst defeated Setauket native David Calone after nearly 1,800 absentee ballots were counted last week. After the June 28 Democratic primary the candidates were separated by just 29 votes. In the end, Throne-Holst was left standing. She defeated Calone 6,479 to 6,162.

“I am deeply grateful to all who placed their trust and support in me, and I am truly humbled by the privilege it has been to get to know, share the concerns, and my message with so many,” Throne-Holst said in a statement through a public relations representative Friday. The Suffolk County Board of Elections confirmed Throne-Holst’s victory but couldn’t give an exact vote count on the absentee ballots as of Friday afternoon.

Throne-Holst, wasted little time turning her attention towards Zeldin Friday.

“Lee Zeldin has shown in every way how out of step and wrong he is, not only for Long Island, but for the country,” she said.

Zeldin’s campaign made a statement after the results of the Democratic primary were known Friday.

“Despite the shameful narrative that the Democrats have been desperately attempting to deceive voters into playing along with, First Congressional District voters are smart enough to sort fact from fiction and reject all of the false, negative and partisan attacks on our Congressman being spun up by the Democrats,” they said. “He looks forward to continuing his work for Long Island and our nation in his second term.”

Throne-Holst commended Calone for his efforts during the campaign.

“I want to congratulate Dave Calone on a spirited race, and I share in the respect and support he garnered in the district, as demonstrated by the very close margin and the strength of his candidacy,” she said.

Though he was disappointed by the narrow margin of defeat, Calone quickly supported his party’s candidate in a statement from his campaign Saturday.

“We were outspent by nearly $1 million and fell short by around 300 votes,” Calone said in an email through a press representative. “That’s a testament to the great Democratic volunteers supporting our campaign across the district. We cannot continue being represented by Congressman Lee Zeldin, one of Donald Trump’s loudest advocates in Washington…I urge people across eastern Long Island to join me in supporting our Democratic nominee, Anna Throne-Holst, to replace him this November.”

Representatives from both parties commented on the primary and November’s general election.

“Long Islanders are ready for a change,” Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement. “I congratulate Anna Throne-Holst on her hard-fought win, and know she has the background and wide-ranging experience to bring desperately needed leadership to this district.”

At least one Zeldin supporter was encouraged by the tight race in the primary.

“That was a very expensive and underwhelming Democratic Primary for Anna Throne-Holst with such a poor voter turnout showing an incredible lack of enthusiasm for her,” Brookhaven GOP Chairman Jesse Garcia said in a statement. “The choice is clear; Lee Zeldin understands what is right for New York’s First Congressional District, and knows how to fight and produce results for our values and our families. We look forward to Brookhaven’s own Congressman Lee Zeldin serving another term next January.”

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

Waiting is the hardest part.

The Democratic primary to decide who will face freshman U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in the race for the 1st Congressional District seat in November was June 28, but as of print time on Wednesday, Zeldin’s opponent was still a mystery.

The former town supervisor in Southampton Anna Throne-Holst led Setauket native and former prosecutor and venture capitalist David Calone by just 29 votes when the dust settled on election night. More than a week later, it’s still unclear who will come out on top.

There are about 1,800 absentee ballots that haven’t been counted — roughly 15 percent of the overall vote

The Suffolk County Board of Elections will begin counting the 1,794 absentee ballots cast on Thursday, though a department employee said that process might take several days. The absentee ballots will be counted by a bipartisan team of department employees in addition to representatives from both campaigns at the Board of Elections office in Yaphank.

In emailed statements from their campaigns, both candidates expressed confidence about what the tally will hold after all the votes are counted and thanked their supporters for their hard work to date.

“I’m proud to be in the lead after election night, and am most especially proud of the positive campaign we ran,” Throne-Holst said through a press representative. “I owe a heartfelt debt of gratitude to our thousands of supporters and volunteers, who are invaluable partners in getting our message to voters.”

Calone said he has high hopes thanks to the nearly nonexistent deficit.

“Given that there are about 1,800 absentee ballots that haven’t been counted — roughly 15 percent of the overall vote — no one knows who will end up on top until we count every vote,” Calone said in a statement. “More than anything, I’m grateful to Democrats around the district who volunteered to help my campaign.”

Neither candidate hesitated to turn their sites toward Zeldin.

“I expect to prevail once every vote is counted and I look forward to continuing our campaign to provide a strong contrast to Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is one of Donald Trump’s greatest advocates in Washington,” Calone said.

Throne-Holst also invoked presumptive Republican presidential nominee and businessman Donald Trump in referring to Zeldin.

“I look forward to working with Democrats throughout the district as we focus on our common goal of defeating Lee Zeldin,” she said. “We all know Lee Zeldin is not looking forward to going up against my record, and voters will reject not only his extremist views and votes, but also his enthusiastic embrace of Donald Trump, who is dangerous for both Long Island and the country.”

At the end of the night on June 28, unofficial results showed Throne-Holst with 5,446 votes — 50.09 percent of the vote — and Calone with 5,417 votes — 49.82 percent.

Zeldin unseated six-term former U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D) by a wide margin back in 2014, with a final vote total of 54 percent to 45 percent.

Check back next week for an update and results, should the counting be complete.

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.