It has been a decade since Anna Throne-Holst has not been at the center of the political world on the South Fork.
Following her loss last week in the race for the 1st Congressional District seat to incumbent U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, Ms. Throne-Holst finds herself not in office or running for office for the first time since the spring of 2007.
“I’m happy, to some degree, to be a civilian for the first time in 10 years,” she said on Friday morning, after attending a Veterans Day parade in Hampton Bays. “I was looking at my resume today—I haven’t had to use a resume in a long time and it needed some major updating.
“I’m at an interesting point in my life,” she added. “My kids are all grown and gone from home, so I’m going to have to think long and hard about what I am supposed to do now.”
She does not rule out a future bid for public office—even another run at the 1st Congressional District seat—or some role in government. But she spotlights that she has bills to pay in the immediate future and officially needs a new career as of last Tuesday.
In 2014, contemplating whether to dive into another run for town supervisor in 2015, Ms. Throne-Holst got a real estate license. She said she does not know whether that will be something she’ll ever pick up—as her predecessor and three-time campaign opponent, Linda Kabot, did.
For the better part of 17 years now, other people have told Ms. Throne-Holst what job they wanted her to do. She was recruited to run the Bridgehampton Child Care Center, and then recruited to run for Southampton Town Board, and then urged into breaking the Southampton Republican Party’s grip on the supervisor’s office. Finally, she was urged to challenge Mr. Zeldin for the 1st District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Technically, she could run for Southampton Town Board again, having served only three of the four terms as supervisor she is eligible for under town term limits, and two of the eight years she could serve as a council member.
Ms. Throne-Holst said she is open to anything—but, no, it is not something she plans to consider.
“I never ran for any office because I had an ambition to be in public office,” she said. “I ran because I felt it was the right thing for me to do at a certain time. I don’t know that I will ever feel that way again. I do want to stay in the world of public service—not necessarily elected, but something where I can help with the things I care about.”
The congressional run was one she saw as driven by a broad dissatisfaction among liberals who had applauded Tim Bishop’s representation of the district with that of Mr. Zeldin. She said those of her mind see a Republican-led Congress that repeatedly dodges immigration reform, threatens Social Security and Medicare, and pushes tax cuts that primarily benefit America’s richest citizens.
“I didn’t get into the race so much to win it … as because someone had to talk about what was really happening, and what needs to happen, and why,” she said. “It was an amazing experience to be a part of. You are really struck by the people you come across on a daily basis. For me, it was about the people I was speaking for, and all the things people thought should be happening with government, and isn’t.”
It was also, much to her chagrin, about the money. Mountains and mountains of money.
Her campaign raised more than $3 million since, in the spring of 2015, she sprinted through the halls of Southampton Town Hall to escape a newspaper reporter seeking to break the news that she would run for Congress before she’d had a chance to make a formal announcement on her own terms.
This week she said her political war chest has less than $100,000 remaining in it, and there probably will be a lot less than that by the time all the final invoices from the campaign trail are settled. Election law allows that money to be held in abeyance for another campaign or donated to other campaign funds.
Mr. Zeldin’s campaign also raised more than $4 million on the race, making the 1st District race the fifth-highest in the nation in terms of the amount raised by the candidates. Outside groups, primarily the political action committees operated by the national Democratic and Republican party leadership, contributed approximately another $3 million to the campaign.
And, in the end, the race revealed, as others did, that all the money and all the effort does nothing to bring people closer to consensus on how the country should move forward.
“This is a country completely divided,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “And I think that those of us who care and worry about that, we have a job to do here. It’s a very different job than most of us envisioned prior to November 8. What form that job will take for me, I don’t know.”