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CSEA backs GOP’s Chris McGrath in state Senate special

Chris McGrath greets supporters after announcing his run

Chris McGrath greets supporters after announcing his run for State Senate on Feb. 10, 2016, in Inwood. McGrath earned an endorsement from the state's largest public sector union in his race against Democrat Todd Kaminsky for the seat formerly held by Dean Skelos. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The Civil Service Employees Association, the state’s largest public sector union, has endorsed Republican Christopher McGrath in a special election to replace former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

McGrath, a personal injury attorney and first-time political candidate from Hewlett, will take on Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) in an April 19 special election in the 9th Senate District.

“Chris McGrath leads by example in his life and in his community,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “CSEA members on Long Island enthusiastically support him because he has the personal qualities that good elected representatives should have.”

CSEA, which typically endorses incumbents, has 300,000 members statewide. The endorsement was made by the union’s statewide Political Action Committee based on a recommendation from its Long Island PAC.

“I want to thank the thousands of hardworking members of CSEA for their endorsement and trust in me,” McGrath said. “The members of CSEA represent the strength and resiliency of the New York State and Long Island work force,” said McGrath.

Kaminsky spokesman Evan Thies responded that Kaminsky has been endorsed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Sen. Chuck Schumer, “and reformers across Long Island who want to finally clean up Albany and end the era of pay-to-play politics.”

“However, it’s no surprise that someone who has made a living by negotiating personal injury settlements with state and local government would get the support of this union. This is Albany insider conflict-of-interest politics at its worst.”

The race is seen as critical in determining the balance of power in the Senate, now controlled by Republicans and a coalition of independent Democrats.

But CSEA spokesman Stephen Madarasz said the union’s endorsement does not indicate a preference for Republicans to maintain control of the chamber.

“We just think Chris McGrath is a strong candidate with a fresh perspective,” Madarasz said.

Skelos, a Republican, and his son, Adam, were convicted in December on eight counts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy. They are appealing.

A Siena College poll conducted earlier this month shows Kaminsky leading McGrath 47 percent to 45 percent, with 8 percent of voters undecided. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

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