Bruce Blakeman, the former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, said Wednesday that he will run for the seat being vacated by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), giving local Republican leaders a recognizable candidate to pit against well-known Democrats who already are fundraising.
Blakeman, 58, of Long Beach, will formally announce his candidacy Thursday at a pizzeria in his native Valley Stream, where he's expected to be joined by Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and other officials.
In an interview Wednesday, Blakeman said his campaign to succeed McCarthy, who is retiring, will be "an optimistic one."
"I think President Obama and the congressional Democrats have taken us down the wrong track," said Blakeman, an attorney. "I think I can help put us back on the right track."
From 1996 to 1999, Blakeman led the county legislature's Republican majority, where he said he helped engineer spending cuts. He ran unsuccessfully for state comptroller in 1998.
In 2010, Blakeman, then of Manhattan, sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, in hopes of taking on Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. He finished third in a three-way GOP primary won by ex-Rep. Joe DioGuardi, of Westchester.
Blakeman, who recently has worked as a business consultant, also served on the Hempstead Town Board and the board of the Port Authority. His ex-wife, Nancy Shevell, is married to Paul McCartney.
Blakeman said that as he begins fundraising, he expects to put "a nice deposit of seed money" into his campaign, but he did not disclose the figure. He said he would meet soon with national Republicans in Washington to seek their support and financial backing.
New Hyde Park attorney Frank Scaturro, who lost the 4th District GOP primary in 2012 and then lost to McCarthy on the Conservative Party line, also has announced his Republican candidacy. Scaturro said Wednesday that he welcomes Blakeman "back to Nassau County" and was looking forward "to a campaign devoted to issues of concern to [4th District] residents."
On the Democratic side, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice has declared her candidacy, with the backing of McCarthy and other national Democrats. County Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) also is raising money to explore a candidacy.
Neither candidate would comment on Blakeman's run.
"Both Democratic candidates are formidable," Blakeman said of Rice and Abrahams. "I expect an issue-driven, hard-fought campaign and I expect it will be expensive."
Political analysts have said each candidate may have to spend more than $2.5 million, and get sizable support from outside committees, to run a competitive campaign in the diverse 4th District. Democrats hold an enrollment edge of more than 30,000 voters, and Obama won 57 percent of the vote in 2012.
Nassau GOP leaders first sought Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray to run for McCarthy's seat, and then turned to Blakeman after she declined. County Republican chairman Joseph Mondello was not available for comment Wednesday, a spokesman said.
A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which also wooed Murray, declined to comment on Blakeman's candidacy.