Former Southampton Town Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst has a narrow lead over opponent Dave Calone in a Democratic Congressional primary too close to call on the night of the vote.
Ms. Throne-Holst had just a 29-vote lead with all precincts reporting in Tuesday’s 1st District primary, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
Southampton Democratic leader Gordon Herr said Tuesday that there are also at least 1,700 absentee ballots still to be counted.
“We will not have a result tonight,” he said of the race to oppose Congressman Lee Zeldin in November.
Shelter Island Democrats voted overwhelmingly for Ms. Throne-Holst. The unofficial tally provided by Island Democratic Chairwoman Heather Reylek was 110 votes for Ms. Throne-Holst to just 28 for Mr. Calone.
Ms. Throne-Holst, 56, of Sag Harbor served as Southampton Town Supervisor for six years before not seeking re-election in 2015 to focus on the Congressional race.
Mr. Calone, 42, of East Setauket, is an attorney, venture capitalist and former chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission. He is the CEO of Jove Equity Partners, a venture capital firm that helps start technology companies. He said he helped organize a bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as a Long Island Emergency Technology Fund, which helped start nine technology companies on Long Island.
Mr. Calone began to address his supporters at a primary night gala at the Meadow Club in Port Jefferson Station around 10:40 p.m.
“They said it was gonna be close, but that’s ridiculous,” he said with a laugh.
Mr. Calone, who thanked his wife Kate for her support, said that despite being outspent by the Throne-Holst campaign, his team has kept him in the race to the finish.
“We are honored to be here today,” he said. “We are thrilled to be in this position when people have put so much time and effort like you all have and to have so much working against us to be where we are right now is a tremendous victory and it wouldn’t be possible without all of you.”
Ms. Throne-Holst arrived at her gala at Cowfish in Hampton Bays shortly before 11:15 p.m.
“As you know, it’s a bit of a hairpin margin we’ve got now but we are ahead,” Ms. Throne-Holst told her crowd of supporters, before predicting eventual victory.
“Absentees tend to go the way things go at the polls, so we are looking at a victory and we are looking at another victory in November,” she said, calling this the “most interesting year of my life.”
In her bid for Congress, Ms. Throne-Holst, formerly a registered Independent, said as town supervisor she cut spending, reduced debt and upgraded the town’s bond rating, while preserving “thousands of acres of open space” and introducing new energy-efficient building codes in her bid for
Before serving on the Town Board, Ms. Throne-Holst was executive director of the Bridgehampton Child Care Center, where she said she launched Head Start programs, after-school assistance, teen pregnancy prevention programs and college prep courses.
The eventual winner of Tuesday’s primary will attempt to win back the seat previously held for 12 years by Tim Bishop of Southampton. Mr. Bishop lost by more than 15,000 votes in the 2014 general election to Mr. Zeldin (R-Shirley), a former New York State Senator.
Many Democrats believe a presidential election year gives them their best chance to win back the seat. Mr. Bishop fared significantly better in the larger turnout presidential years than he did in mid-terms, nearly losing his seat to Republican Randy Altschuler in 2010 before falling to Mr. Zeldin.
At Calone camp Tuesday night, former Assemblyman and one-time Brookhaven Democratic leader Marc Alessi of Shoreham said he “did expect that it would be a close race.”
“We are getting too used to nail-bitters in elections these days,” he said, predicting that no matter who the winner is they will be ready to take on Mr. Zeldin.
In the only other Congressional primary stretching into Suffolk, former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi won a Democratic primary for the 3rd District seat in a five-candidate race, according to Newsday
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Top caption: Congressional hopeful Anna Throne-Holst arrives to applause at her campaign gala in Hampton Bays late Tuesday night. (Credit: Tim Gannon)