Carmen Piñeyro on Feb. 8, 2014. Piñeyro is running for...

Carmen Piñeyro on Feb. 8, 2014. Piñeyro is running for mayor of Freeport. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Freeport Deputy Mayor and Village Trustee Carmen Piñeyro on Friday announced her candidacy for New York's 8th Senate District to replace former state Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. -- setting up a potential Democratic primary with Legis. David Denenberg.

Piñeyro, 37, who served nine years on the Freeport School Board, said she has the background and experience to become Long Island's first female state senator in 30 years. The current Long Island Senate bloc is entirely male and Republican.

"I would bring an important perspective to the Senate that's been lacking," said Piñeyro, who will officially announce her candidacy at a news conference in Freeport Saturday. Piñeyro says she will keep both of her Freeport posts as she runs for office.

The 8th Senate District, which stretches from Nassau's South Shore into the Suffolk border, has been vacant since Fuschillo resigned on Dec. 31 to run a nonprofit group.

Piñeyro, the first Latina to be elected trustee of the 52,000-person village, faces a likely primary against Denenberg (D-Merrick), who said Friday he is "leaning toward running for the seat. I am ratcheting up my fundraising and expect to make an announcement shortly."

Piñeyro said she is not concerned about a potential primary. "Everyone has a right to run for public office," she said.

Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said it's too soon to determine whom the party would back in a potential primary. "It will come down to who can raise the most money and who has the better organization," Jacobs said.

Denenberg has $103,000 in his legislative campaign account while Piñeyro has $3,300 in her village campaign account. Campaign finance law allows funds from local races to be used for state campaigns.

The leading GOP contenders to run for the seat include Nassau Legis. Michael Venditto and Assemb. Joseph Saladino, both of Massapequa. Nassau GOP spokesman Anthony Santino declined to comment on Piñeyro's candidacy.

The race could have statewide implications. Republicans' narrow majority in the Senate depends on a coalition that includes a conservative Democrat and the four-member Independent Democratic Conference.

Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is also planning to vacate his seat as he seeks the GOP nomination to challenge Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton). Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has yet to announce if he will call a special election or allow Fuschillo's seat to remain vacant through November.

Piñeyro said that if elected, she would work to increase funding for district schools and would be a fiscal watchdog against tax hikes.

"I would bring a bipartisan, across-the-aisle mentality," she said.

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