Jockeying to challenge Rep. Lee Zeldin begins – New York News

Rick Brand

Rick Brand is a longtime Newsday reporter who writes about politics and government on Long Island.

The next congressional election may be 15 months away, but contenders for the Democratic nomination in the First District already are visiting Washington, raising money and huddling with local party leaders as they look to oust Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin next year.

“Unfortunately, this is the not the age when Otis Pike could decide in February or March what he was going to do in the next election,” said Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), referring to the Democrat who won from 1960 to 1976 in a district that has swung between parties five times since.

Thiele, 63, a 22-year state lawmaker, former Suffolk County legislator and Southampton Town supervisor, is the most veteran official eyeing the congressional race.

Term-limited Suffolk Legis. Kate Browning, 57, who like Zeldin is from Shirley, is weighing a run, and backers say she could cut into Zeldin’s hometown base.

Both say they plan to make a decision by around Labor Day — this year.

Former county lawmaker Vivian Viloria-Fisher, 69, a Setauket…

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