By Stephen J. Kotz
After months of campaigning and millions of dollars spent on advertising that turned increasingly negative, Former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst held a 29-vote lead over David Calone in the Democratic primary for the 1st District Congressional seat, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Tuesday.
But with 1,665 absentee ballots already in hand, and possibly another 2,453 still to arrive, the results will not be known until next week at the earliest.
With all 473 election districts reporting, Ms. Throne-Holst had received 5,446 votes to Mr. Calone’s 5,417 for a 50.1-to-49.3-percent advantage.
According to the board of elections, there are 137,695 registered Democrats in the district as of June 1st. With a total of 10,871 ballots cast (there were eight write-in votes) only about 8 percent of eligible voters turned out to name a challenger to first-term Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin. That figure could jump to about 11 percent if all absentee ballots are returned.
To be included in the final tally, absentee ballots must have been postmarked no later than June 27 and arrive by Tuesday, July 5.
Despite the near dead heat, both candidates sought to put a positive spin on the results.
“Absentees tend to go the way things tend to go at the polls, so we are looking at a victory — and looking at another victory in November,” Ms. Throne-Holst told a handful of supporters at Cowfish restaurant in Hampton Bays, who waited for more than two hours after the polls closed for her arrival.
In an official release on Wednesday morning, Ms. Throne-Holst said, “I’m proud to be in the lead after Election Night, and am most especially proud of the positive campaign we ran. I owe a heartfelt debt of gratitude to our thousands of supporters and volunteers who are invaluable partners in getting our message to voters.”
“While we won’t know the final results until the roughly 1,700 absentee votes are counted next week, the current 29-vote margin represents a victory of the volunteer grassroots,” said Mr. Calone in a release issued Wednesday by his campaign. “We did not have Wall Street fundraisers, and we did not have $720,000 of super PAC funding poured in for us in the last three weeks — but here we are in a virtual tie.”
At Cowfish, where Ms. Throne-Holst’s supporters, including former Congressman Tim Bishop and current Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, gathered, the mood grew increasingly tense as returns, which had showed her with a comfortable lead, tightened. With more than 80 percent of the districts reporting, Mr. Calone inched into the lead for the first time. The back-and-forth continued until the final district reported.
Despite the final result hanging in the balance, both candidates said the real battle would be waged in the months ahead, against Mr. Zeldin.
“We all know Lee Zeldin is not looking forward to going up against my record,” Ms. Throne-Holst said in her release, “and voters will reject not only his extremist views and votes, but also his enthusiastic embrace of Donald Trump, who is dangerous for both Long Island and the country.”
“The stakes this fall are extremely high,” said Mr. Calone. “Our congressman, Lee Zeldin, is a proud defender of Donald Trump who voted to defund Planned Parenthood and voted against prohibiting people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns.”
Citing the low turnout, Suffolk County Republican chairman John LaValle said he was confident Mr. Zeldin would win re-election. “It will be weeks before one of these liberal lefties limps across the finish line and is granted the dubious distinction of