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Long IslandPolitics

Nassau GOP taps Chris McGrath to run for Dean Skelos’ former Senate seat

The Nassau County Republican Committee Thursday unanimously selected Christopher McGrath, a personal injury attorney and former head of the Nassau County Bar Association, as its candidate to run in a special election to replace ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

McGrath, of Hewlett, who has never run for elected office, will face the Democratic candidate, Assemb. Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor from Long Beach.

Nassau Republican spokesman Michael Watt called McGrath a “great candidate. He is a hard-working and successful man with an extensive track record working to make his local community better.”

McGrath, who did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, is a partner with the law firm of Sullivan, Papain, Block, McGrath and Cannavo based in Garden City and an adjunct professor at Hofstra University School of Law.

One advantage Republicans see in McGrath, sources said, is that he would come into the race with no ties to politics nor to Skelos, of Rockville Centre, who was convicted in December of eight counts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

While McGrath is an outsider, he has contributed nearly $25,000 to the county Republican and Conservative parties, as well as to Nassau GOP candidates, according to state Board of Election records. McGrath also has contributed more than $8,500 to Democrats, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.

The GOP had discussed six other potential candidates with more political experience: Assemb. Brian Curran of Lynbrook, Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman, Legis. Denise Ford of Long Beach, Legis. Howard Kopel of Lawrence, Hewlett GOP president Jim Vilardi and Malverne Mayor Patricia McDonald.

“Voters are tired of corrupt party machines and high-priced personal injury lawyers looking to drive more business to their law firms,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy. “Following the corruption and scandal brought by Dean Skelos, Nassau voters deserve a senator who will work for them and put their needs first and that clearly isn’t Christopher McGrath.”

Both parties are expecting a special election to replace Skelos to be set by Cuomo for April 19, the same day as New York’s presidential primaries. The governor hasn’t officially set a date, but could do so as early as this weekend.


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