The Working Families Party is backing DuWayne Gregory in his...

The Working Families Party is backing DuWayne Gregory in his campaign to challenge Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). Credit: Steve Pfost

The Working Families Party, which has played an increasingly potent role in local candidate selection, is backing the Suffolk Legislature’s presiding officer DuWayne Gregory in his second congressional bid against Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).

Gregory’s nomination, formalized at a state party meeting Friday, is significant because Gregory, a Democrat, is facing a primary challenge from Liuba Grechen Shirley, who has touted has herself as the grass roots progressive in the race.

Lisa Tyson, a member of the WFP’s regional council, said Gregory has been “a progressive leader for many years who’s done the right thing and is an exciting candidate.”

“I think people understand I have a track record working on issues that’s not just theoretical,” said Gregory. “I also have name recognition and experience on issues important to people and have shown I can get the job done.”

Asked her reaction to the minor party’s decision, Grechen Shirley said in a statement: “I’m proud of the more than 2,000 grass roots supporters who have joined my campaign to fight for health care for all, lower taxes on working families, and stand up to Donald Trump — and I look forward to a spirited primary discussing the issues.”

The WFP also backs freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi for re-election. But the party balked at picking any of the seven candidates in the First District looking to run a Democratic primary for the nomination to run against GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).

Party sources say officials are looking for an attorney, with 10 years experience, who could qualify for a State Supreme Court nomination. That person then could get off the congressional ballot once the winner of the June 26 Democratic primary is determined.