Carolyn McCarthy departure turns attention to possible successors

New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy poses for a

New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy poses for a portrait in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in 2011. (July 21, 2011) (Credit: Eli Meir Kaplan)

Nassau political leaders expect an expensive, high-profile race this fall to succeed Rep. Carolyn McCarthy -- particularly if the county's district attorney, Democrat Kathleen Rice runs.

But other Democrats -- including Kevan Abrahams, minority leader of the Nassau County Legislature, and Legis. Dave Denenberg of Merrick -- have already expressed interest in running for the 4th Congressional District seat, where President Barack Obama got 57 percent of the vote in 2012.

On the GOP side, sources say the party is considering six-term Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray. But Murray said yesterday, in praising McCarthy, that "today is not a day for political announcements."


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Legis. Francis Becker (R-Lynbrook), who lost to McCarthy in 2010 and 2012, said Wednesday he's "definitely interested" in another bid, as well.

Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Mondello said that the party "is fortunate to have a number of outstanding potential candidates to choose from."

Republican attorney Frank Scaturro, who lost to McCarthy on the Conservative Party line in 2012 after failing to get Nassau GOP support, also has said he plans to run again.

Since McCarthy (D-Mineola) announced last year that she had lung cancer, speculation has centered on Rice as a potential successor. Rice, first elected Nassau County District Attorney in 2005, was the only Democrat to win a countywide election last year, and led Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's anti-corruption commission.

"This isn't the time for political decision-making. It's a time to honor Congresswoman McCarthy's tremendous service," Rice spokesman Eric Phillips said. "The time will come to think about who can best continue this legacy, but it's not now and the DA is remaining solely focused on her job."

"I think she would be a formidable candidate, and I would enjoy giving her support for that," Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said Wednesday. "But I have no indication that she wants to do it."

Jacobs said his recent criticism of Rice for her investigation into a political influence controversy within the Nassau police department wouldn't affect his decision about whether to support her. Police Commissioner Thomas Dale was ousted after a Rice investigation found he had ordered the arrest of a witness in a political lawsuit.

Jacobs wanted Rice to charge Dale with witness tampering, and criticized her findings that GOP County Executive Edward Mangano's administration was not aware of Dale's actions.

Rice's aides have called Jacob's complaints "completely reckless." Jacobs, however, emphasized that his disagreement with Rice on the Dale case "doesn't mean that I don't think she has served wonderfully."

As of the November 2013 election, McCarthy's district had 511,919 registered voters -- 40 percent Democrats, 35 percent Republicans and Conservatives and 21 percent without a party.

The district traditionally had been served by Republicans before McCarthy's election. She became a prominent gun-control advocate after her husband was killed and her son wounded in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shootings, and later defeated freshman Rep. Dan Frisa (R-Westbury). With Robert Brodsky

Potential candidates to replace McCarthy

Democrats

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice

Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg

Nassau Legis. Kevan Abrahams, minority leader

Republicans

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray

Nassau Legis. Francis Becker

Conservatives

Attorney Frank Scaturro

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