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Long IslandNassau

Suozzi nominated, but Haber vows primary fight

The Nassau County Democratic Party endorsed former County Executive Thomas Suozzi for his old seat Tuesday night, but his well-financed challenger, East Hills businessman Adam Haber, vowed to continue his challenge to Suozzi in the Sept. 10 primary.

Suozzi, who served two terms from 2001-2009, and Haber, a member of the Roslyn school board, spoke at the party's nominating convention in Carle Place. It was the first time the two candidates have spoken in the same location during the campaign.

Suozzi, who was narrowly defeated by Republican Edward Mangano in 2009, was introduced by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, whom he defeated in his last Democratic primary in 2001.

In his speech, Suozzi took aim at Mangano and his leadership. "The government is a wreck," he said. "It's terrible. We need to elect someone . . . who is focused on fixing the finances of Nassau County."

Haber received a polite response as he was introduced to the standing-room-only crowd.

"Our party is built on the idea of a strong middle class," Haber said in his speech. "And I believe we need a new administration in Mineola to protect Nassau's middle class and help more families join that middle class instead of getting squeezed out."

After the speech, Haber and Suozzi had a private five-minute meeting away from the main dining room. Neither would discuss the conversation.

Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said he asked Haber to drop out of the race late last week, arguing that a contested and potentially negative campaign would only help Mangano. "We have a tough race against an incumbent with a lot of resources, and I don't think Adam Haber stands a chance of winning if he is our candidate," Jacobs said.

Haber said he did not need the support of the party to win.

Mangano accepted his party's nomination last week and does not face a primary. His spokesman, Brian Nevin, touted Mangano’s record of “freezing property taxes and creating thousands of private sector jobs . . .”

Democrats tonight also nominated former County Comptroller Howard Weitzman for his old seat, Kathleen Rice for a third term as district attorney, and Laura Gillen for county clerk.The party also nominated 19 candidates for the county legislature, including three seats vacated by departing Democratic lawmakers.

Ellen Birnbaum, director of the office of intermunicipal coordination for the town of North Hempstead, will run for the 10th Legislative District for the seat held by Legis. Judi Bosworth, who is running for North Hempstead Town supervisor. The GOP nominated Jane Centrella, an accountant from New Hyde Park, for the seat.

Democrats nominated Laura Curran, 45, a Baldwin Board of Education member, to succeed retiring Legis. Joseph Scannell in the Fifth District. She will face Robert Rigoroso, an appliance store owner from Baldwin.

Democrats did not select a candidate for the 18th Legislative District after their first choice, Kathleen Reilly, a middle school teacher from Locust Valley, dropped out the race. The GOP will run Donald MacKenzie, 43, a commissioner in the Oyster Bay Water District.

Democratic Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, who represents the 18th District, was moved into the 11th District because of redistricting. Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn), who represents the 11th District, is not running for re-election.

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