Dina De Giorgio, a second-year North Hempstead councilwoman and freshly announced candidate for town supervisor, has the endorsement of one of her party's heavyweights: Alfonse D'Amato, the three-term U.S. senator from New York.
But it remains to be seen whether he packs the power De Giorgio needs to derail an established Democratic machine, say political observers.
Despite the high-profile backing, De Giorgio, a former Democrat, faces an uphill climb, said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies. "I don't think enough people still remember him [D'Amato] either fondly or otherwise to move a lot of voters to her column," he said. "But she'll be a serious candidate."
De Giorgio beamed as D'Amato introduced her to supporters in Port Washington last week. "That's what we need for government. . . someone who is free and independent," he said.
De Giorgio hopes to replace incumbent Democrat Jon Kaiman, who did not directly answer a question last week about running for a sixth term, saying he would not "engage in a political battle in April" and "we're focusing on governing."
A spokesman for the town's Democratic Committee said last week the party's slate will be announced by May 28, the start of the county's Democratic convention. A party source said that if Kaiman does not run, Nassau Legis. Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck) is likely the nominee.
In her speech, De Giorgio painted Kaiman as uninterested in the job, citing talk that he was to run the Long Island Power Authority last fall and briefly "exploring" a run for Nassau County executive.
D'Amato described his role as simply De Giorgio's supporter. "I've not been involved in the machinations of North Hempstead -- either party."
But in his remarks, he attacked the town, which Kaiman has run since 2004. "Let me tell you: Corruption is alive and well, and has been rampant in the Town of North Hempstead, and they have gotten away with murder," D'Amato said.
Kaiman spokesman Justin Meyers responded in an email that D'Amato is "an expert on municipal corruption" and accused him of "having a flashback from years ago when he was the Town of Hempstead supervisor, leader of the most corrupt Republican political machine in America."
He added, "Jon Kaiman's track record speaks for itself."