Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett, an ally of state and Nassau Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs, on Wednesday announced his candidacy for Congress in the 4th District, joining a crowded Democratic primary race to succeed retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City).
Corbett, 42, is an election lawyer and a partner with Harris Beach, a law firm founded by Nassau Democratic vice chairman Thomas Garry.
Corbett serves as law chair for the county Democratic Party and as counselor to the state party.
Corbett said if elected he would boost programs that support social services intervention in cases involving mental health crises.
Corbett also said he would focus on funding to help municipalities seize illegal guns.
Jacobs and Corbett both noted Corbett's years of work in helping elect Democratic candidates.
"I have the relationships and the resources to take this through the primary election, and I have the relationships and resources to make sure I get through the general" election, Corbett told Newsday.
Corbett also said he could work with Republicans.
"I work with the other side," he said. "Listen, I'm the law chair. I throw them off the ballot, but there ain't one person on the other side who doesn't say they respect me."
Of the Democrats who have announced campaigns in the 4th District, Jacobs told Newsday he considered Corbett and Nassau County Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) the strongest candidates.
Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Lawrence) also is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 4th District.
Jacobs said Corbett was, "very well known in the Democratic Party among people who are active and candidates he has helped. He is the mayor of Malverne. While that is a Republican village, he has a lot of friends there that'll help him."
Bynoe is a "progressive, but she is certainly pragmatic," Jacobs said.
"Between the two of them will come a candidate that'll win," he said of Bynoe and Corbett.
Jacobs said former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, of Rockville Centre, who also has declared in the 4th District, "would have a very tough time winning in this congressional seat, given what I know about the voters and the opposition that she would have." Jacobs did not elaborate.
Jacobs said he offered Gillen the chance to run for state Senate to replace retiring Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach).
Jacobs said Gillen accepted initially, but sought the congressional seat after Rice announced unexpectedly she would not seek reelection.
"As she told me, this was a dream of hers since she was a little girl," Jacobs said of Gillen's interest in the 4th District race.
"I'm not here to help people with their dreams," Jacobs said. "I'm here to elect Democrats"
Asked about Jacobs' comments, Gillen said in a statement: "As Hempstead Supervisor, I ignored the politics and focused on delivering results. Now, with families getting priced out and women's rights under attack, I'm ready to keep taking on the tough fights for Long Islanders."
Gillen was elected Hempstead Town supervisor in 2017, becoming the first Democrat to run the Republican stronghold in more than 100 years. She lost reelection in 2019 to Republican Donald X. Clavin Jr.
Last week, Jacobs wrote to Democratic donors to hold off on backing candidates they may have "long-standing relationships with."
Rice criticized Jacobs for his message, writing on Twitter: "No wonder Democrats in Nassau county lose with this kind of leadership."
Corbett told Newsday he has solid relationships with "rank and file" Democrats, and said he would "get the money" to get elected to Congress.
"There's a respect level, and honestly, I can get the troops out there" to campaign, Corbett said.
"I've been representing Democratic candidates and Democratic officials here in this county for over two decades," he said. "The rank and file of this party knows me. They've seen me, I've been there with them."