Rick Brand Portrait of Newsday reporter Rick Brand taken on

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

Islip Town board member John Cochrane has withdrawn his name as a potential contender for the Assembly seat recently vacated by new Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino.

Cochrane, who was on the verge of formally announcing his candidacy, said he changed his mind last week citing family reasons and the fact that he has two sons, 14 and 15, active in high school activities.

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However, several town sources said Cochrane‘s decision also came after a lengthy lunch with Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter, who want to make sure she can retain a town board majority that supports her. One of her allies, Republican Councilman Steve Flotteron, has already expressed interest in running for the county legislative seat now held by term-limited GOP Legis. Tom Barraga.

Cochrane, whose father, John, spent two decades in the State Assembly and later was Suffolk GOP chairman and county treasurer, said Carpenter had nothing to do with his decision. He said he decided it would be better to put off any statewide ambitions until his youngsters are out of high school. “When I was in high school, dad wasn’t able to make any of our basketball games,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he plans to call a May 23 special election for the ninth district seat — which straddles the Nassau-Suffolk line but two-thirds of which is in Suffolk. Nominations must be filed with the state board of elections by March 16.

Party sources say Edward Wiggins, a Babylon landfill foreman who lives in West Islip and also is a part-time aide to State Sen. Philip Boyle, is also a contender. Oyster Bay Town Clerk James Altadonna, a former Massapeaqua Park mayor, has also been mentioned as a potential GOP contender.

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Neither Nassau or Suffolk Democrats have yet to screen candidates in the district, in which where Republicans has 11,600 enrollment edge over Democrats.