Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who switched from Republican to Democrat to run for county executive this year, has hired longtime Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf to lead his campaign.
The move puts Maragos in the company of past Sheinkopf clients including former President Bill Clinton, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the state Democratic Committee and the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association.
“If you had the courage to change parties when you see things are wrong then you obviously understand the electorate,” Sheinkopf said when asked why he wanted to help Maragos.
Maragos, Sheinkopf said, expects a tough Democratic primary in which he will be attacked for statements he made while running for U.S. Senate as a conservative Republican in 2010 and 2012, including comparing gay marriage to people “marry(ing) with their pets.”
Maragos has since apologized and told Newsday, “I’ve evolved on some of those social principles.”
“Attack politics are what Nassau County doesn’t need now,” Sheinkopf said, alluding to the county’s budget woes and federal corruption charges Republican County Executive Edward Mangano is facing. Mangano has pleaded not guilty.
Maragos’ potential Democratic primary foe, County Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), has brought on some of the campaign team that helped Democrat Madeline Singas win her 2015 bid for Nassau district attorney.
The other Democrats eyeing county executive runs — Assemb. Charles Lavine of Glen Cove and Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman — have yet to announce their political staff.