The Suffolk Independence Party is giving its ballot line to Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin over its former party member, Anna Throne-Holst, who switched parties to run as a Democrat in the First District.
“Lee has done an excellent job as a freshman congressman in representing the First District,” said Frank MacKay, state and Suffolk Independence Party chairman.
Throne-Holst ran and won two terms as Southampton supervisor as an Independence Party member along with Democratic backing, but MacKay earlier this year instead supported venture capitalist David Calone, former chairman of the Suffolk Planning Commission, who earlier lost a close June 28 Democratic primary.
Because he lost the primary, Calone agreed to run for a state Supreme Court judge seat on the minor party line so that MacKay could endorse another congressional candidate in the November election.
Party sources say MacKay made the choice after heavy lobbying by Brookhaven Republican chairman Jesse Garcia and Betty Manzella, another top GOP official who is close to Zeldin and lives in his hometown of Shirley. New Conservative chairman Frank Tinari and party secretary Michael Torres pressed for MacKay’s endorsement of Zeldin, who already has the Conservative line.
The Independence Party in the past two elections has meant about 4,900 votes in the First District — less than 2 percent of the vote in a presidential year. It is the first time the minor party has endorsed Zeldin, who ran without its support in two previous elections.
Papers to officially name Zeldin as the Independence Party candidate will be filed with the Suffolk Board of Elections on Monday, the last day the party can make the change.