Republican Nassau Comptroller George Maragos has scheduled a “major” news announcement on Thursday, increasing speculation that he will change his party registration to Democrat and announce plans to run for county executive next year.
While a Maragos spokeswoman declined to give specifics about what the two-term comptroller will say, Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs confirmed that he will be at the news event.
Jacobs also suggested that Maragos, a wealthy Great Neck businessman before he ran for comptroller in 2009, will attend a high-priced fundraiser Wednesday night that Jacobs and his wife are hosting for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The fundraiser features an appearance by her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
Jacobs also said he is not as yet endorsing anyone for county executive. Incumbent County Executive Edward Mangano is up for re-election next year, but the Bethpage Republican has yet to announce whether he will seek a third term.
Political insiders have said for months that Maragos was exploring the possibility of turning Democrat to run for county executive after it became apparent that Nassau’s Republican party would not renominate him.
Maragos has forced out a number of GOP employees who worked for him over the past seven years and also issued audits critical of the Mangano administration.
Maragos spokeswoman Carla Hall D’Ambra, speaking on a private cellphone rather than her office phone during her lunch hour Tuesday, would say only that her boss “is making a very special announcement” on Thursday. Asked if Maragos was changing his voting registration and declaring himself a candidate for county executive, she said, “I’m not at liberty to say. It’s a very special day and a very special announcement.”
Asked if he would attend, Jacobs said, “I do recollect that I am supposed to be in that vicinity Thursday, so it’s likely that I will be there.”
Jacobs would not say what Maragos has planned.
“I’ll leave it to him to announce what he is doing. I’m coming in hopes of increasing [Democratic] registration. . . . I don’t know that this means anything more than what it is. I’m not and nobody else should put too much weight into what happens.”
Jacobs also said, “At this moment in time, I am not endorsing anyone” for county executive. “I am waiting for the landscape to a little more clear. I like George Maragos. I like a number of people. My guess is we’re going to have some solidly good choices in this upcoming election. I say to all the candidates, ‘If you’re interested in running, get out there, set up a committee and see what support you actually have.’ ”
Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman, a Democrat, has filed paperwork to create an exploratory committee, the first step in a possible run for Nassau County executive next year.
County Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) also has expressed interest in running. Other names suggested are Assemb. Chuck Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City).
Jacobs mentioned his Clinton fundraiser, where tickets start at $2,700 each and rise to $100,000 for designation as a host.
“I may get to talk to George Maragos tomorrow night.” Jacobs hinted Tuesday. Asked if Maragos was going to attend the fundraiser, he said, “You never know who is going to show up, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Hall D’Ambra said she did not have access to Maragos’ calendar to see if he would be attending the Clinton fundraiser and didn’t know if he supports Clinton for president. “We don’t talk politics in the office,” she said.
Does Maragos support Clinton for president? “I guess we’ll find that out tomorrow night,” Jacobs said.