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Party Switcher Loses House Seat

A 71-year-old former librarian who spent a paltry $40,000 on her Democratic campaign for Congress won the primary against Rep. Michael Forbes by a 35-vote margin, officials declared Tuesday.

The final vote from the recount of the Sept. 12 primary gave Regina Seltzer 6,077 to Forbes 6,042, said Suffolk County Democratic Elections Commissioner Neil Tiger. Seltzer will face Republican Felix Grucci, the Brookhaven Town Supervisor, in the Nov. 7 general election.

Forbes, a three-term congressman who switched parties last year, amassed a $1.4 million war chest, some of that coming from a fund-raiser last April that featured President Clinton.

"I'm surprised, but I'm going to support the Democratic nominee," Forbes said, adding that he planned to call Seltzer and wish her well. "I hope people will rally behind her."

Forbes said he would return to Long Island, spend more time with his family and go into some kind of business.

Seltzer had said she ran for Congress because "we should have people in there who represent the ordinary person."

As for her no-frills budget, Seltzer said: "I don't like to ask people for money."

Seltzer said her desire to defeat Forbes was fueled less by his change in parties than his politics. Forbes backed Republican Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" and opposes legalized abortion.

Only two incumbents have lost in primaries this year: Democrat Rep. Marty Martinez of California and GOP Rep. Merrill Cook of Utah.

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