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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Kathleen Rice replacement is a question mark

Soon to be former Nassau County District Attorney

Soon to be former Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice is all smiles Nov. 5, 2014, the morning after her election to Congress. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Earlier this year, when Greene County District Attorney Terry Wilhelm left to become a judge, his chief assistant, Charles Bucca, was promptly sworn in as his interim replacement.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had the option of assigning an interim district attorney but chose instead to leave appointee Bucca in place until the end of the year. A new district attorney, Republican Joseph Stanzione, who was elected Tuesday, takes office in January.

If Democrat Cuomo takes the same course of action in Nassau County -- where District Attorney Kathleen Rice leaves for Congress in January -- chief assistant Madeline Singas would serve as acting district attorney pending an election next November.

Democrat Rice has said she would like to see that happen. But Cuomo aides declined to predict what he will do. In the spring of 2012, he took a different tack in Livingston County by appointing as interim district attorney Gregory J. McCaffrey -- a Democrat who went on to win the election that November.

Several names are mentioned in both major parties for DA next fall. Last week Jay Jacobs, the Nassau Democratic chairman, said, "I'm looking for a prosecutor -- someone who has a lot of credibility . . . someone who is not in the current political mix" and has "strong prosecutorial bona fides."

On Sunday his county committee distributed a published commentary by lawyer Joseph R. Conway -- one of the names floated -- praising the attorney general nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, for whom Conway has worked.

IDENTITY AND POLITICS:It has been widely noted that when state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) joins Congress in January, he'll become the sole Jewish member of the House's Republican majority after former Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost a GOP primary in June. When asked about this, Zeldin said, "I think it's very important to advocate for a strong, consistent foreign policy and help improve our relations with our strongest allies in the world, like Israel."

Noting a generations-long enrollment of many Jewish Americans in the Democratic Party, Zeldin said, "It seems like now there is an opportunity to open up a healthier dialogue with the Republican Party about shared concerns and a shared vision to tackle them."

Zeldin said he supports efforts at "a wider audience" for the GOP, including African-American, Hispanic and Asian voters. In 2012, at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, he also noted how members of his wife's family were rooting fora fellow Mormon -- nominee Mitt Romney.

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