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McKinstry: Westchester Democrats agree to be united in race for county executive

Westchester County Board of Legislators chairman Ken Jenkins

Westchester County Board of Legislators chairman Ken Jenkins announces his candidacy for county executive to a room full of supporters and fellow Democrats at the Crown Plaza in White Plains. (Jan. 2, 2013) Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

Hoping to avoid a potentially expensive and divisive political season, Democrats won’t have a primary in their quest to oust Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Democratic leaders met last night at headquarters in White Plains and agreed that whoever is nominated at the convention will be the guy to challenge the Republican executive.

“No one would ever want that,” party chairman Reginald Lafayette told me this morning of a primary challenge among the three candidates.

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, Board of Legislators chairman Ken Jenkins of Yonkers and Legis. Bill Ryan of White Plains are the three declared Democrats in the race. All three agreed to abide by the party leaders' choice at a yet-to-be-scheduled convention.

The announcement is interesting as many people believed that Bramson and Jenkins could potentially spend hundreds of thousands of dollars beating each other up for the Democratic nod, which would only help Astorino’s re-election efforts.

The development is a show of unity for Democrats and a letdown for Republicans, who were quietly hoping for a potentially combative primary season.

Word of agreement comes soon after candidates filed their campaign finance reports. Bramson showed he could raise money in a short period. He pulled in $427,000 in the last month, bringing his total to more than half a million dollars. That put him ahead of Jenkins, who raised $176,000, bringing his total to $218,000.

Despite the fund-raising success, Democrats know their money is better spent running against Astorino and not one another. Astorino has more than $2.2 million in the bank and is expected to surpass $3 million later this year.

“It shows Democrats are really focused on beating Rob,” one Democratic insider told me.