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Nassau DA candidates Kate Murray, Madeline Singas reach across party lines to raise profiles

Republican Kate Murray (left) and Democrat Madeline Singas

Republican Kate Murray (left) and Democrat Madeline Singas (right) are looking to cross party lines to help boost their candidacies in the Nassau County District Attorney's race. Photo Credit: Uli Seit / Steve Pfost

The race for Nassau district attorney is creating strange bedfellows.

Republican candidate Kate Murray, the Hempstead Town supervisor, appeared recently at news conferences with Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), the former district attorney, who has endorsed acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas, a Democrat.

Singas, meanwhile, has shared the stage in recent weeks with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, to announce major gang arrests and an increased police presence during the Memorial Day weekend.

Political analysts said the appearances allow Murray and Singas to tout their accomplishments, get more news media attention than they would on their own and solidify relationships with political allies that can be valuable if they win the November election.

Michael Dawidziak, a political consultant who works mainly for Republicans, said the candidates also can demonstrate their ability to work across the aisle to win over independents, moderates and voters not aligned with the major political parties.

"The best words a candidate can trumpet are 'independence' and 'bipartisan cooperation,' " Dawidziak said. "Voters want to see that you can work with people from all sides."

Dems' options called fewOthers note that Republicans control the Nassau County Legislature and hold all countywide elected posts except for district attorney. They say Singas has little choice but to appear with GOP officials to gain media attention for policy initiatives or major arrests.

"The Democrats have DA and nothing else," said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant. "So what are her options?"

The public appearances of the political opponents involve decidedly uncontroversial subjects.

Last month Mangano, Singas and acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter announced a beefed-up police presence during the Memorial Day holiday. A week earlier the three announced the arrests of 15 gang members in connection with a dogfighting ring and the distribution of fentanyl-laced heroin.

In April, Singas appeared with state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) to call for stronger punishments against motorists who injure or kill people while driving without a valid license.

Rice, as district attorney, rarely clashed with Mangano and other top county GOP officials. During last year's race for the 4th Congressional District seat, Nassau GOP chairman Joe Mondello praised Rice as a "nice person" and "a very good DA." Rice resigned as district attorney after defeating Republican Bruce Blakeman.

Republicans want the good relations to continue if Singas wins, Sheinkopf said.

"Nobody wants to be on the bad side of the DA," Sheinkopf said. "So, hedging your bets is always a good idea."

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said events with Singas were "strictly governmental."

Murray's appearancesPolitical experts said Murray has carefully selected events with Democrats that accentuate her government experience and ability to deliver for residents on key issues.

In March, five weeks before the supervisor confirmed her long-anticipated campaign for district attorney, Murray appeared with Rice to call on PSEG Long Island to halt the use of utility poles to replace buried transmission cables.

Murray and Rice were together again on May 29 to announce that the U.S. Census Bureau had agreed to redesignate East Garden City as part of Uniondale.

Murray also appeared June 1 with Democratic Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy to sign an agreement extending fire and sanitation services between Hempstead Town and the village.

Although Rice is backing Singas, her former top deputy, they have yet to appear together at a news conference. Rice and Singas did make a joint appearance May 16 at a Democratic voter outreach event in Mineola.

In a video of the event provided by the Singas campaign, Rice said: "I like Kate Murray. She is a good person and has a good heart. Do I think she has the qualifications to run for the top law enforcement agency in this county? The answer very respectfully is no."

Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said Rice's willingness to stand with Murray "allows for some confusion" with voters and gives political ammunition to the GOP.

"During the political season, you need to be very careful about the message you send," said Jacobs, who has endorsed Singas in a Democratic primary against former Manhattan prosecutor Michael Scotto.

Jacobs clashed with Rice in 2013 when he argued the DA should have charged former Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale with witness tampering for ordering the arrest of a central figure in an elections case. Rice said there was no evidence of crime by Dale.

Burnishing credentialsSheinkopf said Republicans likely will use photos of Rice and Murray together on mailers and TV ads during the campaign to burnish the supervisor's credentials.

"Kathleen Rice may be sending a message to her replacement: If you want my support, show some distance with the party chairman," he said.

Stanley Klein, an LIU Post political science professor, said Rice's appearances with Murray underscore how little she fears retribution from Jacobs and the Democratic Party.

"The number one rule of politics is do what's best for you to get re-elected -- and that may not be what's good for the party," said Klein, also a Suffolk GOP committeeman.

Klein and others said Rice, who was elected three times as Nassau DA, is an attractive political ally for Murray.

Analysts say Rice supporters could be critical in the election because registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 361,626 to 317,784, with 210,851 voters unaffiliated with any major political party.

At the Uniondale news conference, Rice dismissed the political implications of appearing with Murray.

"This is not about politics but about the people," said Rice, whose district is within the Town of Hempstead. "And we can and did work together on this."

Rice spokesman Eric Phillips said: "Kathleen hired Madeline Singas. She made Madeline Singas her chief deputy. Kathleen intends on supporting Madeline Singas for DA."

Murray said she works with Rice on issues that "affect both of our constituencies" without allowing party affiliation or political campaigns to interfere.

Singas campaign spokesman Isaac Goldberg said, "Kathleen Rice is Madeline Singas' professional mentor and we're proud to have her in our corner."

With Sid Cassese


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