Assemb. Dean Murray at the Longwood Middle School in Middle Island...

Assemb. Dean Murray at the Longwood Middle School in Middle Island on Feb. 6, 2016. Credit: James Carbone

The politically potent Suffolk Police Benevolent Association is endorsing Republican Assemb. Dean Murray for State Senate over Democratic Suffolk Legis. Monica Martinez, even though the union has heavily backed her in past races.

The endorsement is significant in the key 3rd District's State Senate race because it is an open seat. Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville) has returned to active duty in the Navy and is not seeking re-election.

Republicans currently have a bare one vote edge in the Senate, and there are a half-dozen races statewide that are seen as highly competitive.

Noel DiGerolamo, Suffolk PBA president, said that while Martinez, chair of the county legislature's Public Safety Committee, “has always been an ally and supporter of law enforcement in the [county] legislature,” running for the State Senate involves “more global issues,” and “for us, Dean is the right person to address those issues.”

Murray, of East Patchogue, said the endorsement will “have a big impact on the race. The issue of law enforcement is on people’s minds with gang violence ... ”

In a statement, Martinez, of Brentwood, said as public safety chair, “I’m proud of my record in providing the tools and resources needed to keep Suffolk County residents safe. I will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our law enforcement agencies in the fight to keep Suffolk safe.”

Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said the PBA’s backing of Murray is based on his past support for the union’s state agenda and has “nothing to do with Monica.”

Senate Republicans announced the endorsement hours before Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was scheduled to appear at a “Flip the Senate” rally with eight Long Island Democrats at the Tilles Center at the LIU Post campus.

Murray also receiving the backing of the Suffolk Superior Officers Association, the Suffolk Detectives Association and the Suffolk County Police Conference.

Murray also is backed by the county Correction Officers Association.

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