State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) pitched himself as a corruption fighter and tough enforcer of criminal laws as he launched his bid Monday for Nassau County district attorney in a November special election.
The State Senate confirmed former Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas to the State Court of Appeals on June 8, setting off a scramble to replace her midway through her second term.
Nassau’s Democratic Committee chose Kaminsky on Friday to run for the open seat.
Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, has been dean of Long Island’s Democratic senate delegation since 2018, when Democrats won a majority in the chamber.
His seniority in the region's caucus made him a consequential suburban lawmaker who has spoken out on issues including the Long Island Rail Road's management structure and evidence of toxins on gym floors of local schools.
Kaminsky's political career began in 2014 after his election to the Assembly. In 2016, he won election to succeed former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) after Skelos' arrest on federal corruption charges.
Kaminsky served in the Queens District Attorney's Office, and later became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
At a news conference Monday in Mineola, Kaminsky cited his work in federal prosecutions of prominent elected officials including former State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada (D-Bronx), who was convicted in 2012 of stealing from nonprofit Bronx-based medical clinics that received federal funding.
Kaminsky also cited his work as a prosecutor in Queens in the district attorney's domestic violence and felony trial bureaus.
"The very crimes that I focused on prosecuting then are the same issues that keep Nassau County residents up at night now," Kaminsky said.
He said that, if elected, he would take on opioid abuse cases and target gun crimes and gang violence.
Kaminsky also took a swipe at Nassau Republicans, who have yet to name a district attorney candidate.
"If we're successful in our mission, the Nassau GOP isn't going to be too happy, because the old school way of doing politics of pay to play here in Nassau will have no place to hide," Kaminsky said.
Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Cairo called it "ironic" that Kaminsky "has announced that he will target drug dealers, gang members and those who commit gun violence because those are the very criminals who he voted to set free from jail during his tenure in the state Senate."
Cairo was referring to the 2019 bail reform law backed by Democrats in the state legislature, including Kaminsky.
Kaminsky said he later supported revisions to the legislation.
In April 2020, the Senate and Assembly scaled back some of the landmark bail and discovery changes. The result was that just months after eliminating bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies — an estimated 90% of criminal cases in New York — more than 20 crimes returned to being considered "bail eligible."
Kaminsky said he "pushed back against those in my own party who disagree that we needed stronger laws to keep those in jail who mean to do the community harm."
Kaminsky on Monday also sought to distance himself from the "defund the police" movement, saying: " … When those in my own party called on defunding the police, I pushed back."
Kaminsky's State Senate campaign had a balance of $1.39 million in January, according to state campaign finance reports.