Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said Friday she will not run for Congress, leaving Nassau Republicans without their first choice in the race to replace retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy.
Murray, 51, released a statement saying she was "committed to a job I love and focused on completing tasks on my agenda." She had been wooed aggressively in recent weeks by Nassau County and national GOP leaders, including Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon.
"I thank town residents for their ongoing support, and appreciate the kind words of those who encouraged me to run for Congress," Murray said. "At the same time, I look forward to helping elect a Republican candidate to the House of Representatives in the 4th District who will help revitalize our economy, create jobs and control taxes and spending."
Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, a Democrat, announced her candidacy earlier this week. Her campaign declined to comment on Murray's announcement. County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the legislative minority leader, is raising money as he explores a potential primary run.
Analysts and some GOP elected officials said Murray would have given Republicans their best shot at reclaiming the seat that McCarthy (D-Mineola) has held since 1997. Democrats hold an enrollment edge of nearly 40,000 voters in the district in central and southern Nassau, but Hempstead Town covers nearly all of it. Murray won re-election by a margin of 56 percent to 33 percent in November.
"She never seemed to be enthused about it, but I was trying to convince her," King said. "She would have been a very strong candidate, but we have others."
"We have a number of fine potential candidates who I am confident will put this seat back into the Republican column," Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello said in a statement.
Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs called Murray "highly regarded in the town she leads. This district, however, leans strongly Democratic and this was not the best race for her to put her popularity to the test."
King mentioned Anthony Santino, a Hempstead councilman and high-ranking county party official who serves as Mondello's spokesman, as a possible GOP candidate. Santino declined to comment Friday night.
Republican County Legis. Francis X. Becker Jr. of Lynbrook has expressed interest in running for the 4th District seat, and New Hyde Park attorney Frank Scaturro, also a Republican, has announced his candidacy. Both have lost previously to McCarthy.