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Monica Martinez to seek Tom Croci state Senate seat

Suffolk Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) will seek the State Senate seat that Republican Tom Croci is vacating, Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer said. / James Escher

Suffolk County Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) will formally announce her candidacy Thursday for the open 3rd District State Senate seat GOP incumbent Tom Croci is vacating to rejoin the Navy.

Martinez will launch her candidacy joined by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at the Portuguese-American Center in Brentwood...

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Suffolk County Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) will formally announce her candidacy Thursday for the open 3rd District State Senate seat GOP incumbent Tom Croci is vacating to rejoin the Navy.

Martinez will launch her candidacy joined by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone at the Portuguese-American Center in Brentwood at 4:30 p.m.

Word of Martinez’s impending announcement surfaced late Tuesday when Schaffer sent an email to party activists announcing the event. Schaffer disclosed only that there would be a major announcement about taking back the State Senate from Republicans.

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Schaffer confirmed that Martinez decided to make the run after meeting with her for 90 minutes Sunday, and is holding further talks with her Tuesday. Cuomo had been lobbying Martinez to run for Croci’s seat.

“Monica is our future star who is the best person to represent the Long Island and working families,” Schaffer said. “And she’s tough enough to represent the Island against New York City interests and Assemb. Dean Murray’s tea party friends.”

Murray, a seven-year Assembly veteran, was named last week as the GOP candidate for Croci’s seat.

Murray, 53, of East Patchogue, said Martinez “will be controlled by New York City interests and do just what Democrats did in 2009 and 2010 and use a Long Island Democrat to advance the New York City agenda . . . I will do all I can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

While Schaffer had originally backed Nassau County correction officer Darrin Green for the race, Democratic Party sources say he is expected to withdraw from the race.

Martinez, 40, is a third-term Suffolk legislator and chairwoman of the legislature’s Public Safety Committee. She was first elected in 2013 when she ousted incumbent Democratic Legis. Rick Montano in a party primary. Before her election, Martinez worked as a teacher and as an assistant principal in the Brentwood school district.

Jesse Garcia, chairman of Murray’s hometown Brookhaven GOP committee, said, “It’s unfortunate that Gov. Cuomo is bypassing local activists and party official to handpick a local candidate . . . ”

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But the legislature’s Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) praised Martinez’s decision to run. “I’m a big fan,” he said. “Her heart is in right place, she’s a tremendous advocate for her community, and she cares about what she’s doing.”