New York's candidates for attorney general campaigned throughout Long Island Saturday, vying for support in the final two weeks before the state's closest political race is decided.
Democratic incumbent Eric T. Schneiderman touted his support from law enforcement while his opponent, Republican attorney John Cahill, announced a plan for dealing with the state's heroin epidemic, which has hit Long Island hard.
The Island is a key constituency for both candidates: According to the latest poll of Long Islanders, Schneiderman leads Cahill 46 percent to 39 percent. Schneiderman's lead is smaller than in any other state race, according to a Newsday/News 12/Siena College poll released last week.
Schneiderman received accolades Saturday from Suffolk and Nassau police for collaborating locally. He was also praised for a buyback program that netted 111 guns and an initiative that used forfeitures from criminal activity to purchase bulletproof vests for police statewide.
"Schneiderman has shown the leadership necessary to pull law enforcement agencies together to work cooperatively and effectively to help protect our communities," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said at the gun buyback held at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge.
The attorney general received several endorsements Saturday from police unions, including the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association.
Cahill, who made appearances in Oyster Bay, Northport, Hauppauge, Patchogue and Center Moriches Saturday, said Schneiderman's approach to tackling the heroin epidemic "really seems to have been to hand out the antidote."
Cahill called for stiffer penalties for drug dealers and increased funding for treating heroin addiction. Heroin killed a record 144 people on Long Island in 2013, according to government records.
Cahill said he would also seek to pass a state version of the Len Bias Law, which federal officials have used to prosecute those involved in the sale or distribution of drugs that lead to a death. The law was passed after Bias, a University of Maryland basketball star, died of cardiac arrhythmia caused by a cocaine overdose shortly after being drafted by the Boston Celtics.
"We need an attorney general that's going to advocate for tough laws for those that are selling and also compassion for those that are actually suffering from the addiction," Cahill said in front of a state attorney general's office in Hauppauge.
A Schneiderman spokesman said the incumbent's work to combat heroin and other drug abuse includes the formation of an interstate task force and more than 20 major drug ring busts.