Primary Tuesday to decide who challenges Zeldin in November
Registered Democrats in the 1st Congressional District — which comprises the five East End towns, all of Brookhaven Town and part of Smithtown — will go to the polls Tuesday to choose a challenger to face incumbent Republican Lee Zeldin this fall.
The Democratic primary pits former Southampton Town supervisor Anna Throne-Holst of Sag Harbor against Dave Calone of East Setauket, an attorney, venture capitalist and former chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission.
To date, Ms. Throne-Holst leads Mr. Calone in fundraising.
According to the most recent disclosure reports published by the Federal Election Commission for the 2015-16 campaign, Ms. Throne-Holst has raised a total of $1,744,295 while Mr. Calone had raised $1,568,494.
The incumbent, Mr. Zeldin, has raised $2,893,313 so far.
The two candidates have publicly touted both their endorsements and their skills.
“There’s a reason why people like Kirsten Gillibrand and Tim Bishop and Tom DiNapoli support me,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “These are people that everyone recognizes as strong Democrats who have delivered on a progressive agenda and they all support me because they know my track record.”
She said she has an “eight-year track record of getting the job done” as Southampton Town supervisor for six years and as a councilwoman for two years.
Mr. Calone said, “Virtually all of the elected Democrats in the 1st Congressional District support me,” pointing out people like Legislator Bridget Fleming and former Southampton councilwoman Sally Pope, who worked with Ms. Throne-Holst, are supporting him.
While the opponents have largely agreed on issues raised during campaign debates and forums, they have different backgrounds.
Before serving on the Southampton Town Board, Ms. Throne-Holst was executive director of the Bridgehampton Child Care Center, where she said she launched Head Start programs, after-school assistance, teen pregnancy prevention programs and college prep courses.
She also was a founder of the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, which she said is “dedicated to providing students with all walks of life with a first-rate education.”
As town supervisor, Ms. Throne-Holst said, she cut spending, reduced debt and upgraded the town’s bond rating, while preserving “thousands of acres of open space” and introducing new energy-efficient building codes.
Mr. Calone is the CEO of Jove Equity Partners, a venture capital firm that helps start technology companies. He said he helped organize a bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as a Long Island Emergency Technology Fund, which helped start nine technology companies on Long Island.
“I think it’s about different backgrounds,” Mr. Calone said.
“I have actually represented our country at the national and international level and worked with foreign governments,” he said. “I’ve been involved in Congress in advising on job creation and started a nonprofit organization helping veterans start small businesses and, as a federal prosecutor, I’ve focused on corporate fraud and terrorism.
“I’ve also been involved in regional issues as chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission,” he said.
The most heated aspect of the primary so far came from a television advertisement by Mr. Calone stating that Ms. Throne-Holst was new to the Democratic Party and that she made three campaign contributions to the Conservative Party.
“The Conservative Party supports Donald Trump. And Anna gave to them three times,” the ad says.
Ms. Throne-Holst claims the ad is trying to link her with Mr. Trump, the controversial Republican candidate for president.
“I think it’s some of the most gratuitous, lowbrow politicking I’ve even seen,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.
She added that she had always been a Democrat before running for town office, when she was asked by the Democratic leadership to change her enrollment to Independence.
She changed it back to Democrat last November.
Mr. Calone said the ad doesn’t accuse Ms. Throne-Holst of supporting Mr. Trump.
“That’s what she says it says,” he said. “She is saying that to distract from the fact she contributed to Conservative Party.”
Ms. Throne-Holst, who made three contributions to the Conservatives in 2011, said that, as supervisor, she had to attend many political fundraisers.