Thiele Weighs Congressional Bid
New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. confirmed Wednesday that he is considering running for Congress against incumbent 1st District Representative Lee Zeldin in 2018.
“I’ve been contacted by constituents, and leaders in the Democratic Party have reached out to me,” said Mr. Thiele, “and I didn’t give them my usual, ‘no way, no how’ response.”
Mr. Thiele said he was spurred to consider mounting a challenge to Mr. Zeldin because of the Republican’s lock-step support of President Donald J. Trump. “As I look at the direction of the country and the role our congressman is playing in setting that direction, it’s something I do feel I have to actively consider,” he said.
Mr. Thiele, a former Southampton Town supervisor, who has served in the State Assembly since 1995, first as a moderate Republican and more recently as a member of the Independence Party, said he wanted to maintain his “independent status” and not become a member of the Democratic Party as former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst did before mounting her own unsuccessful run against Mr. Zeldin last year.
The assemblyman said he still “loves the job I’m doing in Albany” and would be busy with legislative matters through June. He said he would take time this summer to decide whether or not to run.
Last week, a political newcomer — Sag Harbor’s Hannah Selinger — also announced plans to run against Mr. Zeldin in 2018, and will seek the Democratic Party’s support for her candidacy.
A sommelier and writer, who authors a wine for The Press News Group and serves as an editorial assistant for The Sag Harbor Express, Ms. Selinger announced her intentions via her Facebook page last week following the passage of the American Health Care Act of 2017 on May 4. Congressman Zeldin supported that bill, which repeals part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“I have disagreed with Zeldin’s politics for a long time, but last Thursday’s yea vote on the AHCA really put me over the edge,” said Ms. Selinger, 36, via email Tuesday night. “I’ve read all 115 pages of the bill, including the two amendments proposed by MacArthur and Upton and I think the bill is bad for the country, bad for New York and bad for Long Island.”
Ms. Selinger said she was also concerned about Mr. Zeldin’s environmental record as well, noting the League of Conservation Voters has given the Congressman a rating of 8 out of 100 on environmental issues.
“Here on Long Island, we’re particularly susceptible to climate change. Rising seas could wipe out our entire county,” said Ms. Selinger. “From my vantage point, given his voting record, it does not seem that Representative Zeldin stands with the people of Suffolk County.”
Ms. Selinger, who lives with her domestic partner, Dan Palmer, and their five-month old son, Nathaniel Palmer, said political activism has always been a part of her life, from years writing for RawStory to her time as a Congressional intern for New York’s 17th district in 1999.