David Calone, a venture capitalist and chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, has become the first candidate to officially declare as a challenger to freshman Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) next year.
Calone, 41, filed papers forming a campaign fundraising committee, Calone for Congress, with the Federal Elections Commission on Friday.
"My job for the last few years has been to create new companies and new jobs," said Calone, who heads Jove Equity Partners and created the LI Emerging Technologies Fund to help launch new technology companies that started in research labs. "As an Island and country, we are not doing enough to make sure Long Island can compete for jobs of the future."
Before going into private business seven years ago, Calone worked for four years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., specializing in international crime, and after 9/11 he helped on anti-terrorism cases. He has served seven years as chair for the county planning commission, which is expected to issue an updated comprehensive plan in June.
The Stony Brook resident, a first-time candidate, described himself as a "moderate" Democrat who has worked in a bipartisan way as head of the commission. He said he is entering the race early so he has time to introduce himself to voters, listen to concerns and begin raising money to run a credible campaign. He said he plans to remain as commission chairman at least until his current unpaid term runs out at year's end.
Calone said he was "very disappointed" with Zeldin's recent vote to shut the Homeland Security Agency "over a political issue," noting he was the only local congressman to vote that way.
"I thought that was irresponsible," he said. "You never put politics ahead of protecting national security."
Jesse Garcia, Brookhaven GOP chairman, countered, "Lee Zeldin in little more than a 100 days has delivered more to Long Island and Suffolk County than his predecessor did in 12 years." He said Zeldin will deliver a "record of solutions and results that will improve the lives of residents and our economy, and protect the national security."
A Zeldin spokeswoman said in a statement: "Congressman Zeldin in just a few short months has become one of the most outspoken members of Congress to strengthen America's foreign policy and improve the quality of education in our schools. . . . There is still more work to be done and the Congressman will continue working tirelessly to achieve results for his constituents."