After a hard-fought Democratic primary, Nassau Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) endorsed his former opponent, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, for Congress on Monday.
Abrahams stood beside Rice, who defeated him 56 percent to 44 percent in last month's primary in the 4th Congressional District, to announce his support before a monthly meeting of local church leaders in Uniondale.
"We need to make sure we get Kathleen Rice elected," Abrahams said.
Abrahams, the legislature's minority leader, said his decision to endorse his former rival was prompted by a desire to keep the seat long held by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) in Democratic hands. McCarthy announced in April that she would not seek re-election after 18 years in Congress, and has since endorsed Rice.
"I think now is the time to bring people together," Abrahams said.
Rice is running for the seat against former Republican Nassau Presiding Officer Bruce Blakeman.
Rice said she had an "enormous amount of respect" for Abrahams and was "thrilled" to accept his endorsement. "What we care about is fighting for the little guy," Rice said.
While neither Rice nor Abrahams mentioned Blakeman by name at the endorsement event, Rice's campaign later sent out a news release in which Abrahams said he was "excited" to join Rice's "team as we prepare to take on the extremism of the Tea Party and Bruce Blakeman."
In response, Blakeman campaign spokesman Matt Coleman said: "Blakeman is the only candidate in this race with an economic plan that will create jobs here in Nassau County and a well-thought-out Middle East policy that stands by Israel."