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Assemblyman Fred Thiele switches party affiliation

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. will now have a “D” after his name, replacing “I.”

The long-time Independence Party office holder became a Democrat this spring. His decision was an easy one, he said, because there is no longer an Independence Party in New York State.

Democrats in Albany last year changed the criteria for political parties to be on ballots. The Independence Party wasn’t the only one affected; the Green Party and other small parties were denied ballot access as well.

Without a party line, Mr. Thiele made the change to the Democrats, with whom he has caucused during his 13 years in Albany.

Changing isn’t a new thing for Mr. Thiele, whose district includes Shelter Island.

He was a Democrat in college, a Republican in his early political career and then switched to the Independence Party.

The change doesn’t really affect anything, Mr. Thiele said, adding that he has embraced the same issues throughout his career.

Although he once considered a run for Congress, he said he now plans to stay where he is in the State Legislature.

“I have seniority and I’m able to get legislation introduced and passed,” he said. “I would rather do something than be something,.”