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Mar 15, 2016 12:24 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Throne-Holst, Calone Both Raised Over $1 Million For Congress Run In 2015

Anna Throne-Holst and David Calone will face off in a Democratic primary.
Mar 15, 2016 2:23 PM

Anna Throne-Holst has outpaced her Democratic primary opponent, David Calone, in the early stages of fundraising for the race to unseat U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin this fall.

Drawing on a broad base of contributors, many with deep pockets and histories of support for her, Ms. Throne-Holst had built a campaign war chest of more than $1.1 million by the end of 2015, with more than 3,000 individual contributions.

Her opponent, Mr. Calone, a Stony Brook businessman and former chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, was not far behind, raising some $940,000 in donations through the end of 2015. He also personally loaned his campaign $250,000, pushing his financial reserves over the $1.1 million mark as well.

Mr. Calone, who may not have the name recognition on the East End of Ms. Throne-Holst, a former Southampton Town supervisor and councilperson, outspent his opponent in the early months of the campaign by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. Mr. Calone’s year-end campaign finance report shows about $290,000 in expenditures; Ms. Throne-Holst’s shows about $157,000.

Many of the names on Ms. Throne-Holst’s contributions list are familiar, both from their own notoriety and from her past campaigns. The list is heavy with oceanfront homeowners from eastern Southampton Town, like financial manager Jeff Lignelli and Smith & Wollensky’s founder Alan Stillman, with whom Ms. Throne-Holst mustered a $25 million beach nourishment project following severe erosion during Superstorm Sandy and who have been major contributors to her past political campaigns. Many of the deep-pocketed homeowners gave the $2,700 maximum individual contribution allowed by law, and often family members did as well.

In addition, there are members of the Rechler family, the developers who won approval last year for a redevelopment of the Canoe Place Inn and the eastern shoreline of the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays—a project Ms. Throne-Holst convinced the Rechlers to undertake instead of razing the CPI. She then shepherded the plan to approval by the Town Board.

David Gallo, the president of Georgica Green Ventures, also gave the maximum contribution. His company will build 28 apartments on Sandy Hollow Road in Tuckahoe, a project that was approved unanimously by the Town Board during Ms. Throne-Holst’s tenure and with her strong public support.

Also on the list are former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, members of his family and several employees of his company, who made contributions totaling more than $15,000.

Ms. Throne-Holst personally pitched the idea of a septic technology think tank and incubator to the philanthropic arm of Mr. Bloomberg’s business empire, and the former mayor himself, and won a pledge of $2 million in funding and technical support for the idea, which launched earlier this year at Stony Brook University as the New York Center for Water Technology.

Ms. Throne-Holst’s campaign manager, Andrew Grunwald, said that the campaign has thus far raised more financial support than any challenger has before, from either party. “We’re not relying on huge special interests—we’re truly a grassroots campaign,” he said. “Anna has had over 3,000 individuals step up and support her campaign … and 80 percent of our contributions have been under $50.”

The incumbent Mr. Zeldin will come into the general election campaign with a much larger funding pool to dip into than either of his challengers, though national Democratic Party support and Super PACs can be expected to quickly even out the playing field in the hotly contested district.

At the end of 2015 the Zeldin campaign’s filings showed accounts totaling more than $2.1 million in contributions to his first reelection bid. His contributors include the Koch family, famous supporters of conservative Republican candidates nationwide.

“Right now, the congressman is focused on delivering victories for his district,” Mr. Zeldin’s campaign spokesperson Jennifer DiSenna said in a message this week. “However, when the time comes to campaign, it is clear that he will have all of the resources he needs to successfully deliver his message to the voters of New York’s 1st Congressional District.”

Mr. Zeldin’s predecessor, Tim Bishop, said this week that he would expect expenditures from each candidate to push the $3 million mark by the time voters go to the polls in November.

The tight margins of political registrations in the district, which encompasses a large part of Suffolk County, make the race a close one that has shifted between parties four times since 1998. Mr. Bishop’s six terms in Washington was the third-longest tenure by a district representative.

“This is considered one of the top 12 or 15 pick-up opportunities for the Dems, and important defense for the Rs,” Mr. Bishop said of the party strategizing over control of House of Representatives seats that will, once again, drawn major funding support from national interests to the local campaign. “The huge unknown is what the role of Super PACs will play and the national parties. In 2014, Lee didn’t have a lot of his own money, but a lot of Super PAC and national committee money flooded in.”

Mr. Bishop, who lost to Mr. Zeldin in 2014, said that the big fund-raising effort by both the potential Democratic challengers already hints to the interest in the race and to optimism on the part of Democrats that the right candidate will take back the seat.

“The amount of money that Anna and Dave have been able to raise as challengers sort of points to how passionate people are to get Lee out of office,” said Mr. Bishop, who has endorsed Ms. Throne-Holst in the primary race. “The Democrats have an easier time of retaking the district in a presidential year than they do holding it in an off year. But I don’t think any election in this district any time is ever going to be easy for anybody. There are no layups.”

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If these clowns only worked as hard for us as they do for themselves. What is taking so long with the Canoe Place Inn site? The town's malfeasance in delaying this project is reprehensible.
By SHPredatorDept (72), Southampton on Mar 17, 16 2:36 PM
Andrew Grunwald, Ms. THrone-Holst's campaign manager, says of their fundraising effort, "We're not relying on special interests -- we're truly a grassroots campaign."

Really? Michel Wright reports here that "the list is heavy with oceanfront homeowners." mentioning Jeff Lignelli and Alan Stillman, the folks who've leaned on ATH to save their beachfront houses regardless of the effect on anyone else. And of course, there are the developers -- the Rechlers, whose CPI/Shinecock Canal project ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 17, 16 3:14 PM
Ti Bishop should know about these things: Sillerman financed his campaigns -- all six of them.
By fire11 (276), east hampton on Mar 17, 16 3:41 PM
David Calone is a good guy. He's in nobody's pocket. How refreshing!
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Mar 17, 16 10:04 PM