Nassau Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) Thursday came close to saying he will run for the State Senate seat vacated by Merrick Republican Charles Fuschillo, but stopped short of committing to the race.
"I'm thinking strongly about it," Denenberg said. "I'm leaning towards running. I would think I would make an announcement within the next two weeks."
After Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced Wednesday that she will run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), Denenberg said he is focusing on the open senate seat for the 8th District, which extends across Nassau's South Shore into Suffolk.
Denenberg, who had been considering the congressional run, said Rice called to advise him of her decision.
"I wished her luck," said Denenberg, adding that he would not run a primary against Rice. "I've been meeting with friends, family, supporters, looking toward how I can best serve my constituents and a broader constituency."
He said the current issues in Albany "are so meaningful to the South Shore: New York Rising, Sandy recovery, school taxes, property taxes, economic growth and job opportunities. I think I could make a great impact fighting for my South Shore constituency right now."
Despite past clashes with Denenberg, Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said, "I think that Dave Denenberg would make a great candidate for the State Senate. I think he probably has the best chances of any Democrat to actually win that seat. While there have been issues in the past, at the end of the day, Dave and I have been together a heck of a lot more than we've been apart."
Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello said, "The Republican Party has some young, dynamic candidates who are anxious to make this race and who I am confident will keep the seat in the Republican column."
The contest for the seat is being watched closely in Albany, where the narrow majority in the senate depends on a coalition that includes a conservative Democrat and the four-member Independent Democratic Conference. They give 29 Republicans the edge needed to garner more than the 32 votes necessary to control the chamber. That balance is threatened now that Fuschillo has left and Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) plans to run for Congress.
Likely GOP candidates are Nassau Legis. Michael Venditto, son of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, and Assemb. Joseph Saladino, both from Massapequa.
The senate seat has been vacant since Jan. 1 when Fuschillo resigned to take a job with a nonprofit. It is unclear whether Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will call a special election or allow voters to elect a new senator in November.