Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice is "seriously" considering running to succeed Rep. Carolyn McCarthy and will soon travel to Washington to meet with members of Congress, a top-ranking Democrat said Friday.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, confirmed Rice's interest in the 4th District seat, noting that she leads a poll of potential primary contenders.
"She is very actively and seriously considering it," Israel said in an interview.
Rice spokesman Eric Phillips said the DA "is staying focused on her current job, but she's definitely taking a hard look at the race and she's been humbled by the encouragement to run that she's received from a diverse set of constituents."
McCarthy (D-Mineola) announced Wednesday that she won't seek a 10th term. The district, where President Barack Obama won nearly 57 percent of the vote in 2012, has 205,000 registered Democrats, 173,000 Republicans and 110,000 with no party affiliation, and several Democrats are considering campaigns.
Kevan Abrahams of Freeport, minority leader of the Nassau County Legislature, and Legis. Dave Denenberg of Merrick have expressed interest in the seat. On the Republican side, Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray has been the most-discussed candidate, but has yet to indicate whether she will run.
Nassau County Legis. Francis X. Becker Jr. (R-Lynbrook) is exploring a GOP bid, and attorney Frank Scaturro of New Hyde Park has said he will run. Both have lost to McCarthy.
An internal Democratic campaign committee poll of the party's likely primary voters, conducted Thursday, showed Rice ahead of Denenberg by 46 percent to 21 percent, with Abrahams at 10 percent and 20 percent undecided, according to a copy obtained by Newsday.
Denenberg said he thought the poll results were "pretty encouraging for a legislator who has made no announcements" and has a far smaller constituency than the DA. Abrahams said, "the poll everyone should focus on is on Primary Day."
Israel said he wouldn't pressure candidates to bow out for Rice.
He said Rice's visit to Washington will occur in the "near future," and will include meetings on issues that interest her, but he provided no details.
Also Friday, the National Republican Congressional Committee began opposition research on Rice. It submitted a records request to the DA's office seeking information about subjects including Rice's investigation into a political influence case that led to the police commissioner's ouster.
Phillips and DA's spokesman Shams Tarek declined to comment on the records request.
Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice
Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg
Nassau Legis. Kevan Abrahams, minority leader
Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray
Nassau Legis. Francis Becker
Attorney Frank Scaturro