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Long IslandColumnistsRick Brand

David Calone won’t challenge Lee Zeldin for Congress

Democrat David Calone says he will not challenge

Democrat David Calone says he will not challenge Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley). Photo Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Democrat David Calone, who narrowly lost a party primary a year ago, has decided against making a second try next year to take on Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin.

The Setauket lawyer, 43, said that with three young children, he “did not think it was the right thing for my family to launch another yearlong race at this time.”

Calone ran a stronger than expected primary last year, trailing the better-funded candidate, former Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne Holst, by just 29 votes on primary night. Calone ended up losing the race by 319 votes after absentees were counted.

The highly independent First District voters have bounced back and forth between Republican and Democratic representatives a half dozen times since 1960, when the position it was first held by ukelele-strumming Otis Pike. He later helped lead a major probe into the CIA spying on domestic anti-war protesters.

Calone’s early departure clears the way for other contenders to emerge.

Former Suffolk Legis. Vivian Viloria-Fisher has announced her candidacy. Perry Gershon of East Hampton has formed a campaign committee and veteran Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), is weighing a potential run.

Term limited Suffolk Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), a popular incumbent who could cut into Zeldin’s hometown political base, also has been mentioned as a possible contender to take back the perennial swing seat that Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop lost three years ago.

Calone, former chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission and a venture capitalist, said he spoke to Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer twice in recent days about his decision and was in the process of informing other supporters.

Calone said he will do everything can to assist and advise the Democratic candidate.

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