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Abrahams' prerace focus is on fundraising

Nassau Legislator Kevan Abrahams is photographed at his

Nassau Legislator Kevan Abrahams is photographed at his office in Roslyn on Friday, Jan 31, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Nassau Legis. Kevan Abrahams isn't just exploring the idea of running a congressional primary against fellow Democrat and presumptive front-runner Kathleen Rice.

He's scheduled multiple fundraisers with the goal of pulling in half a million dollars or so to take Rice on.

"If I can get the funding for the race, I will not step back," Abrahams said Friday. "I will run a primary and keep on fundraising toward running an aggressive general election campaign."

With that, Abrahams has separated himself from other Nassau officials, including Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick), who put their congressional aspirations aside last week after Rice announced her candidacy for the seat held by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy.

Abrahams, in his first interview since announcing creation of his exploratory and fundraising apparatus, said he is very much aware of what he needs for a run: some $500,000 for a primary against Rice and $2 million more to take on whatever candidate the GOP fields after last week's decision by Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray not to run.

That pretty much jibes with political analysts' calculations that it could cost more than $2.5 million to launch a competitive race in the 4th Congressional District.

Even as he seeks contributors -- a task likely to be made difficult because of Rice's perceived star power -- Abrahams has to consider how he would handle a primary.

So does Rice.

The fight for the 4th, even with no primary, probably will be a politically bloody affair. Democrats and Republicans in Washington both want to win as many seats as possible in their bid to control the House of Representatives.

On Long Island, national political leadership also is keeping watch over the competitive race for the 1st Congressional District on the East End. Former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer George Demos -- in his third attempt for the seat -- already is attacking fellow Republican state Sen. Lee Zeldin of Shirley, and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in ads.

Both congressional races could end up as proxy wars, with the running battle between Democrats and Republicans in Washington played out locally.

Already, some issues are rising -- including Obamacare and financial stresses on the middle class.

But what tends to define such races is the mudslinging and negative campaigning that's fueled by big money flooding into the districts.

Like Bishop and Zeldin (should he survive a multimillion dollar, largely self-funded GOP primary challenge from Demos), Rice has a congressional campaign committee in Washington standing by to boost her race.

Abrahams said that will not blunt his quests for funds.

"I can't worry about Washington," he said. "My effort is making it to a primary, through the general election and then on to Congress, where I can serve people from my district."

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