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.

Republican State Sen. Phil Boyle has wrapped up his second minor party endorsement in his bid for Suffolk County sheriff, hours before GOP leaders are to screen contenders for the job.

Frank MacKay, state and Suffolk Independence Party chairman, said his party will back Boyle, joining Conservatives who announced their endorsement earlier this year.

“The senate’s loss will be the county’s gain,” MacKay said. “We know that he will be as diligent as sheriff as he has been in Albany. “

Four years ago, the Independence line was worth about 6 percent of the vote when the incumbent Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, a Conservative, ran unopposed and was cross-endorsed by major and minor parties. The Conservative line accounted for 13.8 percent of his vote. The Democratic line drew 42.6 percent of the vote and Republicans 38.12 percent.

DeMarco, who is in the running for a U.S. Marshals Service post in the administration of President Donald Trump, announced last week he will not seek re-election after three terms in office.

DeMarco was hamstrung because he would have had to challenge Boyle to a September primary just to get his own minor party line in the aftermath of his fight with ex-Suffolk Conservative leader Edward Walsh, a corrections lieutenant who worked for him and was convicted on federal corruption charges last year.

While some critics have criticized Boyle’s lack of direct law enforcement experience, backers say Boyle as a lawyer has been heavily involved in criminal justice legislation in the senate.

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MacKay said Boyle’s wide experience in Albany will “serve him well in dealing with the various dynamics he’ll face in such a complicated job” as sheriff.

MacKay said the decision to back Boyle has nothing to do with the fact his MacKay’s wife, Kristin, works for the sheriff’s department, noting she earned her job in a competitive Civil Service exam. She is the office’s $104,338-a-year public relations director, a job she has held since 2008.

“She would be serving the public no matter who the sheriff is,” Mackay said.