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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand endorses Nassau DA Kathleen Rice for House seat

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice speaks in Mineola

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice speaks in Mineola on Oct. 25, 2012. (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has given an early, if expected, endorsement of Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice for Congress to succeed Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola).

Gillibrand announced her endorsement in a statement released by Rice’s campaign on Wednesday. She joins McCarthy as prominent national Democrats who have quickly backed Rice.

“When it comes to combating gun violence, helping families rebuild from Sandy, or fighting to help small businesses and the middle class, Kathleen’s lifelong experience advocating for families makes her the best candidate to deliver for this district,” Gillibrand said.

Rice said she was “honored” to receive Gillibrand’s endorsement: “Her record of fighting for New York families and advocating for women in government is truly unmatched.”

Rice, 48, of Garden City, has been Nassau district attorney since 2006, and began her third term last month. She was aggressively wooed to run for McCarthy’s seat by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but may yet face a primary.

Nassau Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) has formed a campaign committee and will soon hold his second fundraiser to see whether he can take in enough money to challenge Rice. In a statement, Abrahams called Gillibrand a “phenomenal public servant and a champion for the progressive causes I’ve supported my entire career,” adding that if he were to run and win, “I would be thrilled work alongside her in Washington.”

Nassau Republicans, meanwhile, have yet to choose their candidate to run in the 4th Congressional District. Bruce Blakeman, a former presiding officer of the Nassau Legislature — who lost the 2010 GOP senate primary to challenge Gillibrand — has been mentioned as a potential frontrunner, sources have said.

Two Republicans have already launched primary campaigns: New Hyde Park attorney Frank Scaturro, who lost to McCarthy on the Conservative Party line in 2012, and David Silverstein, a political newcomer from Merrick who runs a corporate executive search firm in Manhattan.

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