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Democratic congressional candidate Anna Throne-Holst is going all out in an attempt to tie Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Throne-Holst began airing radio and television ads this weekend that hit Zeldin for continuing to support Trump after a 2005 video in which he bragged about groping and kissing women became public. Trump has called it “locker room talk” and denied assaulting women.
Zeldin has called Trump’s remarks “indefensible and wrong.” He said he still supports Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton because of Supreme Court vacancies at stake, scandals involving Clinton and Trump policies on national security, the economy and veterans issues.
Throne-Holst’s radio spot plays bleeped-out Trump comments from 2005 to former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, Trump’s criticism of parents of a soldier killed in Iraq and Trump mocking a disabled reporter.
The ad then plays a clip of Zeldin telling a Fox News interviewer in July he endorsed Trump and hoped he wins.
In the television ad, a woman says Trump “brags about sexually assaulting women. How do I explain that to my daughters?”
“How do I explain that Lee Zeldin is sticking up for Donald Trump?” asks another woman.
Zeldin spokeswoman Jennifer DiSiena called Throne-Holst’s campaign “negative and dirty.”
“She could never get elected in a solutions based campaign for Congress, which is exactly what Congressman Zeldin’s campaign has been about,” she said in an email.
Zeldin said in an interview Monday that voters don’t want the congressional race to become a referendum on the presidential contest.
“Voters want to know what you stand for, instead of attacks that try to tie your opponent to someone else,” he said. “I believe that voters are very frustrated with campaigns that are so totally negative.”
Zeldin has aired biographical ads that highlight his service in the U.S. Army and his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. Another ad focuses on increasing funding for New York bridges and legislation Zeldin is working on to preserve Plum Island.
A Newsday poll from earlier this month showed Zeldin up 15 points over Throne-Holst, a former Southampton supervisor. Trump was beating Clinton 43 to 40 in the district.
Throne-Holst’s campaign has noted the poll was conducted before Trump’s remarks became public.
For her sake, Throne-Holst has declined to answer whether she believed Clinton was honest and trustworthy at debates and candidate forums. She has said she would vote for Clinton over Trump, whom she called “a sexual predator.”