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In speech to Nassau Democratic Committee, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo stops short of endorsing acting District Attorney Madeline Singas

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during a news conference in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany on June 25, 2015. Credit: AP

With Election Day two weeks away, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo came to Carle Place Tuesday night to support Nassau County Democrats but stopped short of endorsing the party's top of the ticket candidate, acting District Attorney Madeline Singas.

In a speech to more than 800 at the county Democratic committee's fall dinner at the Chateau Briand, Cuomo addressed a range of topics, from gun control to increasing the state's minimum wage to presidential politics.

Cuomo made only passing mention of the slate of Democratic candidates on the ballot, but noted that Singas has been "a great career prosecutor" who has done "an extraordinary job in a difficult position."

State officials said Cuomo has a long-standing policy of not endorsing candidates for law enforcement positions, including district attorney. Singas will take on Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray for district attorney Nov. 3.

Singas became the acting district attorney in January after Kathleen Rice was elected to a seat in Congress. Cuomo had the opportunity to appoint Singas as district attorney -- removing the acting title and potentially boosting her credentials as she ran for a full term -- but chose not to intervene.

Wading into presidential politics, Cuomo, who is backing former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, took shots at the slate of Republican candidates, particularly front-runner Donald Trump for his comments about illegal immigration.

"If it wasn't so frightening it would be funny," Cuomo said.

Cuomo spent much of the speech highlighting his record, including passing gun control legislation, a property tax cap, gay marriage and a new push to pass a $15 minimum wage for all New Yorkers. Cuomo signed a similar bill earlier this year for fast-food workers.

In her speech, Singas challenged Murray's credentials and said the momentum of the race had turned in her favor.

"The Nassau district attorney's office is not where beginners go to learn," she said. "Kate Murray has no business being district attorney."

A Murray spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Nassau Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said "Democrats govern better. We are competent, we are more responsible and fiscally prudent, and we tell the voters the truth about what we do and why."

Cuomo has a long and complicated relationship with Nassau County Democrats.

Ten days before the 2013 election, Cuomo offered a party-line endorsement of all Nassau and Suffolk Democrats, but his speech offered only a passing mention of Thomas Suozzi as he ran for his old seat against the Republican County Executive Edward Mangano. Last year, Mangano broke party ranks and endorsed Cuomo in the governor's re-election campaign.


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