The candidates in the April 19 special election to fill the seat of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos rolled out major endorsements Tuesday, as President Bill Clinton backed Democratic Assemb. Todd Kaminsky and 14 police unions announced for Republican Christopher McGrath.
Clinton, appearing with Nassau Democrats in Elmont at a rally to support his wife Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, cited Kaminsky’s six years as a federal prosecutor and his work during his first term in the assembly.
“I want you to get out there and elect him,” Clinton told a crowd of several hundred people. “This is really, really important to the future of New York State. This guy, he embodies what this election is really all about.”
McGrath, an attorney from Hewlett, received the endorsement of 14 law enforcement unions at the Nassau Police Benevolent Association’s Mineola office. PBA President James Carver said it’s critical for the GOP to maintain control of the Senate to protect Long Island interests.
“This is a pro-police decision . . . a pro-Long Island decision,” Carver said of the unions’ endorsements.
Kaminsky and McGrath are vying for the 9th Senate District seat, which was vacated in December when Skelos was convicted on federal corruption charges. He and his son, Adam, who also was convicted in the case, are appealing. The race could determine the balance of power in the State Senate, which is controlled by Republicans and a group of breakaway Democrats.
Also Tuesday, McGrath’s campaign criticized Kaminsky for missing three recent Assembly votes, including one Tuesday, while he was campaigning in the Senate district. “Typical politician Todd Kaminsky continues to choose campaigning over the needs of his constituents,” said Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif.
Kaminsky campaign spokesman Evan Thies defended the decision to miss the Assembly votes. Thies said Tuesday that Kaminsky was “spending today with the people Albany needs to listen to more often: taxpayers.”
Kaminsky’s campaign criticized a video on the website of McGrath’s law firm, Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo of Garden City, in which a partner says the firm can get “substantive” verdicts for plaintiffs in police brutality and excessive force cases.
Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy accused McGrath, a partner in the firm, of “lining his pockets” while “suing the police.”
Kaminsky presented no evidence that McGrath has worked on such cases.
A McGrath spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Laurence Hirsh, an accountant from Valley Stream, also is running for the Ninth District seat on the Green Party line.