Leaders of the Nassau and Suffolk County Democratic committees said Tuesday they would not endorse a candidate in the primary in the 3rd Congressional District to replace retiring Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington).
Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan and Suffolk County Legis. Steve Stern Legis. of Dix Hills are all vying for the seat.
Nassau Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said there are four “qualified individuals” competing for the seat, and that he wanted to avoid a turf war with the Suffolk and Queens’ Democratic parties.
“It makes sense for us not to make an endorsement,” Jacobs said.
Suffolk Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer said he was personally supporting Stern but that the county party would not back a candidate. Suffolk committee members, he said, will be allowed to carry petitions for any, or all, of the four candidates.
“We think this gives us the best result for this type of process,” said Schaffer, who doubles as Babylon town supervisor.
Schaffer said Rep. Joe Crowley, chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, also agreed not to make an endorsement in the race. A Crowley spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Jacobs said he has asked town and city leaders to withhold endorsements, but that county committee members can support and volunteer for any candidate during the primary.
About 52 percent of district voters live in Nassau; about 36 percent are in Suffolk and another 12 percent are in Queens.
Nassau Republican spokesman Michael Watt said the GOP still is “exploring our options, including not making an endorsement in the race.” Suffolk and Queens GOP officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Republican contenders include State Sen. Jack Martins of Old Westbury, Suffolk Legis. Robert Trotta of Fort Salonga, Assemb. Chad Lupinacci of Huntington Station, former Glen Cove City Council candidate Philip Pidot, and David Gurfein, a retired U.S. Marine lieutenant colonel from Manhasset.