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McKinstry: Westchester County Executive race heats up

Westchester County Board Chairman Ken Jenkins (D) at

Westchester County Board Chairman Ken Jenkins (D) at the State of the County address at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains. (April 25, 2012) (Credit: Faye Murman)

It was one of the worst-kept secrets in Westchester County politics: Ken Jenkins is running for county executive.

The Yonkers Democrat and chairman of the Board of Legislators is going to make it official Wednesday with an announcement in White Plains. But he spilled the beans over the weekend in an e-mail to supporters.

“This Wednesday, January 2nd, I will be announcing my candidacy for Westchester County Executive,” Jenkins wrote in a message to supporters. “I am humbled by the support I have received from so many of you, and it would be my honor to have you stand by my side for this very special occasion.”

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That brings the number of Democrats vying for the chance to oust Republican County Executive Rob Astorino to three. In addition to Jenkins, potential challengers include Legislator Bill Ryan of White Plains and New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson.

It will be interesting to see who is – or isn’t – in Jenkins corner when he announces. That could be telling how polite, or more importantly how divisive, this “race before the race” is going to be.

For his part, Bramson also used social media to respond to Jenkins’ announcement (in a sign of the times on his Facebook page) that the election will have “profound impact on lives and communities throughout our region.”

“With so much at stake, Democrats must nominate the candidate who is best prepared to run a competitive campaign and make the strongest case for our values,” Bramson wrote. “As the mayor of a complex and diverse community, I have brought people together to address difficult issues and know firsthand the critical importance of a coherent regional vision. Yet I am also able to take a fresh look at the County’s challenges and apply energy and innovation to our future. Democrats have good options to consider in the weeks ahead, and we will be fully united when a nominee is chosen.”

With a roughly 2-to-1 enrollment advantage, Democrats like their odds regardless of who wins the nomination. And despite some initial pleasantries among candidates, there may be no getting around a hard-fought, expensive and potentially divisive primary race.

Tags: ken jenkins , westchester , politics , rob astorino

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