A midterm departure by DA Rice would alter Nassau ballot cycle

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice outside the Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice outside the Nassau County Court in Mineola on June 6, 2014. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Many local politicos know that if Democratic Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice wins a congressional seat, and thus vacates her current job by Jan. 3, the governor could then pick her replacement for the rest of 2015. An election for DA would follow in November.

But even some seasoned operatives didn't realize when contacted last week that a special election for DA would carry a full four-year term -- not just the two years left on Rice's current elected term.

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Past practice and legal opinions, cited in attorney Jerry Goldfeder's published election-law guide, bear this out. In November 1995, a few months after Kenneth Gribetz was forced out as Rockland County DA, then-Gov. George Pataki's appointee, Michael Bongiorno, won a full four-year term. Victoria A. Graffeo, then state solicitor general (now a state Court of Appeals judge), suggested this be done in an advisory opinion linked here. It happened that way in Queens in 1991 when Richard Brown succeeded John Santucci as DA.

So unless Republican Bruce Blakeman wins the 4th District seat, a new four-year cycle commences. Nassau's DA no longer would run in the same year as other countywide officers -- executive, clerk and comptroller.

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