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Bruce Kennedy, Sea Cliff mayor, to pursue GOP primary after Conservative Party pulls endorsement

Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy said he will pursue a Republican primary this fall in his bid for a state Assembly seat after the Conservative Party did not endorse him and he lost GOP backing.

Kennedy said the party rejected him for performing same-sex marriages.

Nassau Conservative Party chairman Daniel Donovan said the committee objected to Kennedy on family issues.

"I am running as a Republican, and I will be in a primary in September," Kennedy said.

He announced his challenge to Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) in April, and he said the Republican Party had been collecting signatures to get him on the ballot.

Anthony Santino, spokesman for Nassau County Republican chairman Joseph Mondello, confirmed that the party was withdrawing its support for Kennedy.

"It became known to us that Mayor Kennedy would not receive the Conservative endorsement," he said. The Republican committee concluded "the best opportunity to win the seat was to have a unified ticket," Santino said.

Kennedy said the Conservative Party "finds it objectionable that I've performed same-sex marriages. Marriage equality is a matter of law, and I, as mayor, have taken an oath to uphold the law. . . . I have performed countless legal marriage ceremonies, and I've done so without prejudice to ethnicity, color, creed or sexual orientation in a manner prescribed by law."

Donovan said the Conservative Party concluded Kennedy "didn't present himself in the right way on issues. We're very stiff on issues that have to do with the family and marriage and things like that."

The Nassau Conservative and Republican committees plan to support attorney Louis Imbroto, who lost a bid last year for the county legislature and lost a bid to unseat Lavine in 2012. Imbroto did not return calls seeking comment.

Donovan said they supported Imbroto, who is "not married yet, but he's a good family man. . . . We got no trouble with Imbroto."

Kennedy predicted he will beat Imbroto in September.

"I'm a proven commodity, I have been mayor of the village for the past six years, I have a lot more experience than he [Imbroto] does," Kennedy said. "Lou's a really good guy, and it's unfortunate that the Republican Party has put us into this position."

Lavine said the GOP's retreat from Kennedy followed a "destructive" national trend.

"It's not a good day for democracy when a candidate like Mayor Kennedy who happens to be fiscally cautious but socially progressive cannot get the nomination of a major political party," Lavine said.

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