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Long IslandColumnistsRick Brand

Congressional candidate Kate Browning was Right to Life member

Browning, a Democrat running in the 1st Congressional District, dropped the Right to Life affiliation years ago and says she is ‘pro-choice.’

Former Suffolk Legis. Kate Browning, seeking to challenge

Former Suffolk Legis. Kate Browning, seeking to challenge Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), once was a member of the Right to Life Party. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Former Suffolk Legis. Kate Browning told a Democratic audience she belonged to the Right to Life Party when she first became an American citizen, but dropped that party affiliation years ago and says she is “pro-choice.”

The former Suffolk County lawmaker made the disclosure at the Three Village Democratic Club last week, where she was among five congressional hopefuls to take on Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) who made their pitches to 120 party activists.

A Catholic raised in Northern Ireland, Browning said she was enrolled in the minor Right to Life Party for two years after she became a citizen in 2000. She said that was long before she was involved in politics, and that she always has “believed in a woman’s right to choose.”

The New York Right to Life Party was formed in 1970 to oppose legalization of abortion. It was recognized as a political party on the statewide ballot from 1978 to 2002, when it failed to get the needed 50,000 votes in the gubernatorial election to keep its ballot line.

“Some people may try to make it an issue but it’s silly,” said Browning. “I’m on the same page as Joe Biden on the issue.”

Biden, also a Catholic, told the Jesuit review “America” in 2015 that “I’m prepared to accept that at the moment of conception there’s human life and being, but I’m not prepared to say that to other God-fearing non-God-fearing people that have a different view. Abortion is always wrong . . . But I’m not prepared to impose doctrine that I’m prepared to accept on the rest of,” the nation.

Browning, a former school bus driver and union leader, was a Working Families Party member until last summer, when she switched her voter registration to Democrat.

Browning, who was term limited in Dec. 31 after 12 years in office, also told the audience she raised $163,000 in her first five weeks of campaigning in the First District congressional race — without self-funding except for a $1,000 donation from her husband, a New York City police officer.

Transplanted Manhattan businessman Perry Gershon, who became a full-time East Hampton resident to run last spring, said he’s raised $1 million, although he loaned $400,000 to his campaign. Gershon has $800,000 on hand.

Zeldin, of Shirley, has amassed $1.5 million.

Another former Suffolk lawmaker, Vivian Viloria Fisher, who has been in the First District race since summer, said she has raised $200,000, including $100,000 loan she made to her campaign.

Viloria Fisher also said she has hired as her campaign consultant Tony Coates. Coates once was a campaign adviser to former GOP Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, and later ran a losing campaign as a Democrat against him.

Browning’s campaign manager is Keith Davies, who has worked as a campaign aide to Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer.

Another Democrat in the race, Elaine DiMasi, a former Brookhaven National Lab scientist who left that post to avoid violating the federal Hatch Act, told the Three Village Democratic Club she never was enrolled in a party until she became a congressional candidate.

DiMasi corrected herself in a subsequent interview, saying she has been a Democrat since 2016.

DiMasi, who reported raising $54,000 last year, declined to say how much she has on hand until her filing becomes public at month’s end.

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