When Congressman Lee Zeldin challenged his Democratic predecessor, Tim Bishop, in 2014, he ran a campaign promising to be on the frontline of issues facing Congress.
He criticized Mr. Bishop for being a “back-bencher” who rarely sponsored his own legislation and kept a low profile on the national stage — particularly for someone with 12 years’ experience on Capitol Hill.
During his first 21 months in office, Mr. Zeldin has kept a fairly high profile, often appearing on television and sponsoring or cosponsoring more bills than the vast majority of House freshmen.
In his first two years, he has demonstrated command of the issues facing New York’s 1st Congressional District and a passion to serve its residents.
If you identify as conservative and you voted for Lee Zeldin two years ago, you probably believe he has represented your ideals well. With enrolled Republicans still outnumbering Democrats in the 1st Congressional District, it’s also probable Mr. Zeldin (R-Shirley) will be elected to a second term next month.
Residents of the district — which comprises the five East End towns and a large portion of Brookhaven — could do a lot worse. Could they do better? That depends on each voter’s own political beliefs.
Much like Republicans did in 2014 with Mr. Zeldin, a former New York State senator, Democrats have nominated a formidable opponent in Anna Throne-Holst, former Southampton Town supervisor. She has significant experience navigating issues facing the East End and has proven during her time in office that she can be an effective executive while legislating from the minority.
On a local level, Ms. Throne-Holst has questioned Mr. Zeldin’s effectiveness on three of the most talked-about issues of this campaign: the future of Plum Island, helicopter noise on the East End and dredge spoil dumping in Long Island Sound.
Mr. Zeldin has pointed to his own lobbying efforts on these issues — and, in the case of Plum Island, legislation to prevent it from being sold to the highest bidder — as measures of his success. His opponent has accused him of not being loud enough, considering that his Plum Island bill has no sponsor in the Senate, the North Shore helicopter route has been extended and nothing has been done to stop the dredge dumping.
The truth is, they’re both right. Mr. Zeldin has made efforts to protect his constituents’ interests on these issues, but they’re complex and nowhere near being resolved.
In this election, despite what one campaign might say about the other, voters really do have two good options: a proven conservative and a challenger who has vowed to govern from the left.
The question undecided voters have to ask themselves is: Which side do you fall on?
Given this newspaper’s track record of supporting the liberal point of view on most federal issues, Ms. Throne-Holst is an easy choice for us.
Unlike Mr. Zeldin, she actually used the word “science” when discussing climate change at an environmental candidates’ forum held this week. And while the top issue listed on Mr. Zeldin’s campaign website and in his recent advertisements is national security and a commitment to defeating ISIS, Ms. Throne-Holst has instead centered her campaign on protecting the middle class, reducing gun violence and fighting for women’s rights.
Mr. Zeldin’s willingness to sign on as a co-sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that could allow discrimination against gays and lesbians by protecting those who oppose same-sex marriage based on their religious beliefs, is troubling to us.
These days, Democrats in Washington are simply more willing to talk about and fight for the issues we believe should matter most to the citizens of this country, while Republicans remain focused on the ones rooted in people’s fears.
We believe Ms. Throne-Holst is on the better side of social and environmental issues — and that’s enough for us.