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Kathleen Rice gets backing of four Republican officials

Republicans Denise Ford, left, a Nassau County legislator,

Republicans Denise Ford, left, a Nassau County legislator, and Tom Tweedy, Floral Park mayor, endorsed Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) for re-election during a news conference in Garden City on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A group of Republican officials from Nassau broke party ranks Tuesday, endorsing first-term Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) for re-election over her GOP opponent David Gurfein.

At a news conference in Garden City South, Nassau Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach), Floral Park Mayor Thomas J. Tweedy and Bellerose Mayor Henry Schreiber announced their support for Rice. Atlantic Beach Mayor George Pappas, who did not attend the event, also announced that he would back Rice, who is a former Nassau County district attorney.

Ford, a registered Democrat who caucuses with Republicans in the legislature, cited Rice’s advocacy for victims of superstorm Sandy, including efforts to bring an emergency room to the Barrier Islands after the 2012 storm destroyed Long Beach Medical Center.

“She is a fighter and a tireless advocate for each and every one of us,” Ford said. “She is someone that we need to keep representing us in Washington, D.C.”

Tweedy, whose family has been friends with Rice’s family for three generations, cited the congresswoman’s early opposition to the now-scuttled plan to bring a video lottery terminal parlor to Belmont Park.

“Congresswoman Rice will never be outworked,” Tweedy said. “She will work hard to find out what is the proper course of action independent of party affiliation.”

Nassau Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello, who is backing Gurfein, a retired Marine colonel, said in a statement that “our nation’s greatness is firmly rooted in the right that every citizen has to endorse and support the candidates of their choice. However, I want to make it very clear that I am proud to personally endorse Col. David Gurfein. He enjoys the strong support of the Nassau County Republican Committee in the race for Congress.”

Gurfein’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Ford said she did not check with Mondello before offering Rice her endorsement. “I felt that I should have the freedom to decide who I want to support,” she said.

Rice called the endorsements a “big deal,” saying the Republicans were “brave” for putting party affiliation aside to back her campaign.

“I hope this show of bipartisanship is an example for people not just here in New York State but all across the country,” Rice said.

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