Rep. Kathleen Rice on Monday endorsed Democrat Madeline Singas in the race for Nassau district attorney against Republican Kate Murray, describing her former top aide as a "tough experienced prosecutor."

Rice (D-Garden City), who served as Nassau district attorney for nine years before her election to Congress last year, joined two local anti-drunken driving activists at a news conference at Eisenhower Park to announce her endorsement of Singas. Singas served as Rice's chief assistant in the district attorney's office and became acting district attorney in January when Rice became a House member.

"It matters that you have prosecutorial experience," Rice said of the district attorney's office. "Madeline is running to be the top law enforcement official in this county, and her almost 25 years of experience is going to serve her well. This is a real job with real consequences, and I can't think of anyone else I'd rather see take over for me than Madeline."

Singas' campaign has criticized Murray, the Hempstead Town supervisor since 2003, for her lack of experience in criminal law. Murray has served as an assemblywoman and in the state attorney general's office and says she will bring her managerial experience from running the nation's largest town to the district attorney's job.

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Murray's campaign spokesman did not immediately return requests for comment about the Rice endorsement. But responding to concerns expressed by anti-drunken driving activists at the Singas news conference, Murray campaign spokesman Bill Corbett said when Murray "is district attorney she will prosecute these crimes to the fullest extent of the law."

A Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll released Monday shows Murray leading Singas 48 percent to 42 percent. The poll of 404 likely Nassau voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.