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Democrat Todd Kaminsky announces NY Senate run for Dean Skelos’ former seat

Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) announces his bid

Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) announces his bid for State Senate at East Elementary School in Long Beach on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Assemb. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), a former federal prosecutor, cast himself as the anticorruption candidate as he announced his candidacy for the State Senate seat vacated by Dean Skelos, who was convicted of bribery, extortion, and conspiracy charges in December.

“We stand to bring integrity back to Albany,” Kaminsky said Sunday outside his childhood school, East Elementary School in Long Beach. “Together, we can kick in the doors of the smoke-filled rooms of Albany, we can break up the old-boys network, and we can say to them, ‘This government is ours.’ ”

A crowd of supporters chanted “Todd!” as Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” played him off the podium.

A special election will be held April 19 for the vacant seat. Nassau Republicans selected Christopher McGrath, 57, a personal injury attorney from Hewlett and a past president of the Nassau County Bar Association.

Kaminsky, 37, said his efforts for his Assembly district included securing aid for victims of superstorm Sandy and successfully urging Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to veto a controversial plan to build a liquefied natural gas terminal 19 miles off Jones Beach.

But fighting corruption was the key theme of his speech.

“I think that this has reached the level that Long Island has not seen. They see it on every level of government, and they’re fed up,” he said in an interview with Newsday after his news conference. “The best people to fight corruption are the ones who have already done it.”

Republicans have argued that a Democratic win would do more to further New York City interests than those of Long Islanders.

“While he presents himself as a reformer, the reality is he’s a fraud and a phony,” Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif said in a statement.

Reif tried to link Kaminsky to former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who was also convicted of corruption charges. And “rather than support Long Island families, he has repeatedly sided with Mayor [Bill] de Blasio and the New York City special interests who are out of touch with the needs and values of our region,” the GOP spokesman said.

Reif’s statement added: “We are fully confident we will retain this seat and grow our majority in 2016.” If the Democrats took the seat, they stand a chance of taking the Senate’s majority away from the GOP.

Kaminsky acknowledged the challenges of running for a seat held so long by a Republican. Skelos had held the office since 1985. Nodding toward the doors of the elementary school, Kaminsky said that at that time, “I was in first grade.”

“I think things are coming together in a way where people are going to look for reform wherever it might be, whatever that party might be, and I represent that.”

Cuomo endorsed Kaminsky for the seat in a statement released after the news conference.

“He fought to uphold the law and bring justice to those who break it as a former federal prosecutor, and he’s continued that commitment by fighting for stronger ethics laws in the state legislature. Todd has stood up for Long Island time and time again in the Assembly, and I am proud to endorse him for state Senate,” Cuomo said.

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