Nassau's intriguing political races

Michelle Schimel makes her acceptance speak shortly after

Michelle Schimel makes her acceptance speak shortly after being sworn into the 16th Assembly District by Senator Chuck Schumer at the Inn at Great Neck as her father, Howard Extract, left, looks on along with her husband, Mark. (May 6, 2007) (Credit: James Carbone)

Dan Janison

Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison, Dan Janison

Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday for 10

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Overshadowed for the moment as they may be by this year's early congressional primaries, a few intriguing contests for state legislative seats also are quietly taking shape, especially in Nassau.

One such race drew brief notice with the abortive candidacy of an estranged husband against his incumbent wife. But, once Mark Schimel dropped his bid for the Assembly seat of his spouse, Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck), county Republicans listed Richard Stiek, a Port Washington lawyer, as their preferred candidate.

Incumbents of both parties are usually favored to win re-election. But western Nassau has a new open seat -- the 22nd Assembly District -- created by the majority Democrats during redistricting. Its borders take in Lynbrook, Elmont, Valley Stream and North Valley Stream. Party officials mention several possible nominees including: Michaelle Solages, sister of Nassau County Legis. CarriƩ Solages (D-Elmont); Milagros Vicente, who's been active in protests to save the Fifth Police Precinct, and Geoffrey Prime, mayor of South Floral Park since 2010.

The Democratic county committee is due to convene next Tuesday to designate its preferences. The Republicans already have done so, putting up Sean Wright of Floral Park for the new seat.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this week signed a bill setting the primary for state legislative positions for Sept. 13, a Thursday, to avoid holding it that Tuesday, Sept. 11, anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Separately, due to a court ruling months ago involving overseas ballots, the federal primaries come June 26. Usually all primaries in the state are held the second Tuesday in September.

In another unusual twist, Democrats have been remarkably quiet about who will challenge first-term state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola). Several prospects have reportedly passed up the chance. For the past five years, the 7th Senate District seat switched parties twice.

In contrast, lawyer Ryan Cronin of Garden City is pushing to draw attention to his candidacy in the neighboring 6th Senate district. Cronin declared late last year for the chance to face veteran state Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City). This week he began trotting out labor endorsements.

Democrats habitually declare Hannon vulnerable at the polls, yet in 2010 he retained the seat with 58 percent of the vote. Democratic officials say Pat Maher, a longtime civic activist from East Meadow and past candidate for other posts, may run for the nomination as well.

For Congress, the GOP also has cross-endorsed Allan W. Jennings Jr., a Democrat who also is looking to run a Democratic primary against Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica). As a New York City councilman, Jennings was censured in 2005 after two women filed sexual harassment charges against him. He got his pay garnished after declining to pay a $5,000 fine imposed on him. More recently, Meeks, who's heavily favored in the election, has been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee over an alleged gift from a Queens businessman.

On an odd election calendar, you'd have to expect a few odd races.