Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said she will not seek re-election this fall for a fourth term and will instead seek the Democratic nomination next year to challenge freshman conservative Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin for his 1st District seat.
"He's shown he's a tea party-supported legislator in a myriad of ways," said Throne-Holst. "Even in his early days, he has shown himself out of touch with the everyday wallet needs of families in the district."
Throne-Holst said she decided against running again for supervisor so she could "launch full throttle" into the congressional race and felt it would be "disingenuous" to seek another term she might not complete.
She said her nearly eight-year record as a town official shows she has worked in a bipartisan way to resolve town fiscal problems, while protecting the town's battered shoreline and saving more than 1,200 acres of open space. She also said that she has pressed for new initiatives, including revitalizing the Hampton Bays downtown and the Riverside-Flanders area, while getting funding for the new clean water center at Stony Brook University to improve technology of septic systems, protecting groundwater in areas like Southampton that are largely unsewered.
"I have a consensus-building approach of reaching across the aisle, which is much needed in Washington," she said. "I have a track record of getting the job done without raising taxes."
In reaction, Jennifer DiSiena, Zeldin's spokeswoman, said nothing about Throne-Holst's candidacy, but said Zeldin has been "one of the most outspoken members of Congress to strengthen America's foreign policy and improve the quality of education in our schools," adding he "will not be outworked, outclassed or outgunned in pursing victories for his district."
Throne-Holst, 55, of Sag Harbor, becomes the second announced candidate in the race, joining venture capitalist David Calone, a Democrat, who is also chairman of the Suffolk Planning Commission.
Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member who has run with Democratic backing, said she will change her registration to Democrat to run for Congress. The move will ensure Throne-Holst can run in a Democratic primary, if necessary.
The supervisor's decision not to seek re-election, town and county sources say, clears the way for Suffolk Legis. Jay Schneiderman, also an Independence Party member who is term-limited after 12 years, to run as the Democratic candidate to succeed Throne-Holst. Schneiderman, a Montauk motel owner who once served as East Hampton supervisor, owns a house in Southampton and earlier this month changed his voter registration to that address.
In addition to Throne-Holst and Calone, two other potential contenders, Legis. Kara Hahn and former Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, met with congressional Democrats in Washington to explore their candidacy. Throne-Holst said she also went down to Washington April 15 to discuss her potential candidacy and met with EMILY'S List, which funds Democratic women candidates.
Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said that Throne-Holst's decision to forgo another term as supervisor and devote herself full-time to a congressional bid "shows her recognition of what is involved in running for Congress and her commitment to the race."
Calone said he is putting together his campaign and the resources to run a strong race. "My message as a lifelong Democrat, [which] involves working to create good-paying jobs and fighting crime, [is] resonating with people I've been meeting with." Asked if he expects a primary, he said, "I guess so."