Steve Israel, Marlene Budd file for divorce

Rep. Steve Israel and his wife, Family Court

Rep. Steve Israel and his wife, Family Court Acting Judge Marlene Budd, have announced they are divorcing. (Credit: Newsday, 2005 / David L. Pokress)

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Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and his wife, Marlene Budd, an acting state Supreme Court justice, disclosed Friday they plan to file for divorce on the eve of their eighth anniversary.

"Together, we have made the difficult but amicable decision to file for divorce," said the couple in a prepared statement issued by Israel's Washington office. "While we are separating, we remain close friends and completely supportive of one another."

A divorce would be the second for Israel, who has two daughters by an earlier marriage, which ended in 2002. Budd was also married before and that marriage ended in 1997.

Before Israel took office in Congress in 2001, he and Budd had served together as members of the Huntington Town board for five years, but they did not start dating until after he left the board. When the couple married in 2003, the ceremony took place on a boat by Huntington lighthouse with Town Supervisor Frank Petrone officiating.

Israel, who will be 53 Monday, is head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which just won an upset victory with Democrat Kathy Hochul in western New York earlier this week.

Budd, 45, was elected to the family court in 2005 and had recently screened as a candidate for state Supreme Court, but withdrew from the race after being screened by the bar association, citing personal reasons.

Rumors of marital discord surfaced during Israel's campaign against Republican John Gomez last year, but aides at the time discounted such talk. Lindsay Hamilton, Israel's spokeswoman, declined to comment on when papers would be filed, the reasons for the breakup, or Israel's planned living arrangements.

Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said he expects no political impact from their decision. "I love and respect both of them and wish them both well," he said.

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