State Assemblyman Charles Lavine dropped out of the race for County Executive on May 24, announcing his decision at a news conference in Garden City. Then Lavine threw his support behind County Legislator Laura Curran, a Democrat from Baldwin.
“All of us live in a time like no other,” Lavine said. “We have a crisis in Washington and we have an crisis in Nassau County. Laura and I have been friends for many years … and we will remain friends, because we have a shared belief. And that belief is that government serves a legitimate purpose: The purpose of government is to serve our citizens.
Curran, 48. the mother of three who previously served as a Board of Education trustee and worked as a newspaper editor and yoga instructor, is a first-time candidate for the county executive’s post.
Lavine, 69, of Glen Cove, said it was time for Democrats to unite behind a single candidate for county executive — Curran. “Because it is a time for unity,” he said, “I am ending my campaign for county executive. I will not weaken the effectiveness of those of us who believe in good government, and I will not enable a primary between Laura and me that will only serve to artificially enhance the power of the Nassau Republican Party.”
County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs expressed his support for Lavine’s decision. “I’m very proud of the fact that he launched a great campaign for county executive, and would have made an outstanding county executive, nevertheless decided [to drop out] for the good of coming together and making sure we win in what will be a very tough election.”
County Comptroller George Maragos, a former Republican turned Democrat who has also declared his candidacy for county executive, is the only candidate expected to run a primary against Curran in September. In April, Jay Jacobs, the county Democratic Party chairman, and Maragos, traded harsh words after Jacobs refused to endorse him, backing Curran instead.
Winning back the county executive’s seat has been a goal of Democrats ever since the current Republican county executive, Ed Mangano, unexpectedly defeated Democrat Tom Suozzi in 2009 by a narrow margin. Suozzi is now a congressman.
Mangano, along with his wife, Linda, and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, were arrested last October on a 13-count federal corruption, fraud and bribery indictment, according to officials at the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Ed Mangano was separately charged with extortion, which officials noted was not violent, but rather "under color of official right."
The County Republican Party recently endorsed State Sen. Jack Martins for county executive, hoping to hold onto the post in the wake of Mangano’s corruptions charges. Democrats, it appears, are sensing vulnerability on GOP’s part in this year’s election and are planning to capitalize on it. Martins ran against Suozzi for the 3rd Congressional District seat in 2016, but was defeated.
“Most politicians talk about what’s in the greater good for the people,” Jacobs said, “but in truth, most politicians are guided as much by ambition as anything else. But [Lavine] has always put his constituents, the people he’s served, before his own interests.”
Lavine offered praise for Curran. “We share a vision that will restore Nassau County to being the place it should be, a place that is free from corruption, a place where government works and it works for the benefit of all,” he said. “Tough leadership, smart leadership, experienced leadership, that’s what we have in Laura Curran.”
For her part, Curran said she’s running on an anti-corruption platform. “I think [Lavine and I] both got into this race for similar reasons …,” Curran said, “because we do have this culture of corruption, and we are, as people, so much better than the government that represents us. I think we both got into this race because we want our government to live up to us and to our communities.
“I know that, united, we will bring what it takes to win in November,” she added, “and make the government work for the people and give Nassau the fresh start it deserves.”
Scott Brinton contributed to this story.