Why did he loan himself nearly $1 million for his campaign?
Why does 20% of his money come from Colorado?
Why does he have so many out-of-state people and politicians keyed into his campaign?
Why is he running a local election with national overtones?
Why has he spent over $200,000 in consultation to help him run a campaign in a place he grew up?
These are just several questions we’ve been raising over the course of the campaign. We feel that these are realistic questions that should be asked of any contender for a local seat. It’s the same reason Perry Gershon (D) underperformed the blue wave year in 2018 against Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley); Gershon was from the city. It’s the same reason that this exact newspaper was instrumental in the downfall of Michelle Bond (R), a cryptocurrency investor from Maryland touting a Long Island profile that never truly existed as presented.
What’s curious about Calone is that while he is a lifelong resident of Setauket, his campaign has the appearance of one from out of state. Someone who has lived on Long Island his whole life should not have too much trouble connecting with voters who are essentially his neighbors, and if he does have that problem, then it makes us dubious of his ability to connect with the county he may be elected to represent.
Furthermore, someone with local connections should probably have an easier time raising funds from local groups and parties. The Democratic Party and its typical endorsers seem to be observing the writing on the wall that this is shaping up to be the third consecutive red wave year on Long Island, one in which control of Suffolk County is firmly returned to the GOP for the first time in fifteen years. It’s possible that enthusiasm is stymied and the money just isn’t there.
Even so, Calone’s $750,000 in loans to himself from an address and two separate post office boxes inflate his fundraising totals by large amounts. We’re not arguing a question of fairness – it’s Calone’s money and he’s allowed to donate to his own campaign – but we think it’s misrepresentative of a local election. This is further highlighted by his many years in private equity, scratching the backs of tech startups in other states who, in Calone’s time of need, have eagerly returned the favors. Again, Calone is allowed to have friends and people who will help him out, but tech entrepreneurs in California or Colorado funneling tens of thousands of dollars into a local election doesn’t exactly communicate “home-grown” values.
The big question that has been revolving around Calone’s campaign is his ties to the Centennial State: Colorado. As it turns out, he was classmates with now-Governor Jared Polis (D) during their Princeton days. Jove Equity Partners, currently operated by Calone, was started by Polis and Calone became the managing partner in 2008 when Polis was elected to Congress. Even as recently as the 2018 gubernatorial election in Colorado, Polis’ bloated net worth – among the highest in Congressional history – his association with Jove Equity Partners was called into question by critics who felt he and his Republican opponent were too out of touch with the general Colorado public.
Calone’s presence in the Colorado tech startup community, namely in Boulder, has been of assistance to him since he ran in the Democratic primary for New York’s First Congressional District in 2016. Calone received vocal support from the same entrepreneurs who helped elect Polis in 2008. The pattern of investing in tech startups to later receive campaign support is essentially what has defined Calone’s political history, rather than consistent public service on Long Island.
Calone’s relationship with the governor descended on Long Island earlier this summer when Calone attended a ritzy Manhattan fundraiser that was closed to the press.
Just last week, Calone’s campaign sent out a mass text for a Zoom meeting fundraiser with Governor of Polis and the House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08). Meanwhile, the only elected official with national connections has been Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is known for his local roots and specific brand of retail politics. Romaine has only appeared with Town Councilmembers, County Legislators, and other local elected officials.
We could only imagine the outrage if Romaine appeared in a Zoom meeting, or traveled to Connecticut, in search of funds for a local race with Kevin McCarthy or the Governor of Oklahoma, for instance.
Finally, if Calone is truly a lifelong Suffolk resident, then it’s difficult to imagine why he has spent nearly $200,000 on consultation. Some consulting services are necessary, but again, trying that hard to connect with residents who are essentially his neighbors makes us wary of his ability to connect with his potential constituents. To add insult to injury, the consultants he’s paid are nationally-aligned groups who work to elect Democrats on the national level. One of the groups actually lists Calone as the only local office candidate; the others are all running for U.S. House.
Overall, we think that these are fair questions to ask a candidate running for local office that will undoubtedly have a large effect on our lives if elected. We most importantly ask for a candidate who not only is from our great county, but also acts like it too.