Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced Thursday that she will seek a third term in November, for now ending speculation that she plans to run for county executive.
In an email to supporters, Rice, 47, said working on gun control and cracking down on cybercrime will be among her priorities, if re-elected.
"While our strides have been bold and our progress steady, I believe I have more to contribute to an office that we all rely upon to protect our families and to ensure the integrity of the criminal justice system," she said.
Rice, a Democrat, took office in 2006 after unseating Nassau's 31-year Republican district attorney, Denis Dillon. In 2010, she made an unsuccessful bid for her party's nomination for attorney general. Since then, her impressive campaign fund -- she ended the first half of 2012 with nearly $2 million in the bank -- has fueled speculation she was eyeing higher office this fall, though she had remained mum on the subject.
Democratic leaders have touted Rice as a top candidate to challenge Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano this fall. Rice's decision creates a void for Democrats in the race.
"She is a dedicated public servant who loves the job she has," said Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs, who has spent more than a year lobbying Rice to run against Mangano. "She feels that she has more work to do."
Rice, a Touro Law School graduate, had worked as an assistant DA in Brooklyn and assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia. Rice said she intends to help legislators fight for an assault weapons ban, to continue gun buybacks and to use illegal-gun cases to help break up gangs.
Dan Friedman, president of Nassau's Criminal Courts Bar Association, claims Rice has at times been more interested in grabbing headlines than doing justice. He said she has been unreasonable in some drunken driving prosecutions and on other issues that she believes will be politically popular.
"She needs to concern herself less with politics and more with the effect that her policies have on individuals," he said.
Countered Rice campaign spokesman Eric Phillips, "There's a small amount of people who think she's too tough and there's a small amount of people who think she's too lenient, and the vast majority of people understand this to be the mark of a thoughtful, balanced and fair prosecutor."
Rice said she's learned a lot in eight years and wants to put that knowledge to use in a third term.
"I ran in the first place because I didn't want to run the same old kind of DA's office this county has always had," she said. "I'm fair, I run a nonpolitical office, I'm very transparent, and I think that's what this county deserves."With Robert Brodsky