Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello was nominated by President Donald Trump on Monday to serve as U.S. ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.
“Being asked to serve as the President’s personal representative to one of our nation’s most important trading partners – the nation with the third-highest GDP per capita in the Americas after the United State and Canada – is an extraordinary privilege,” Mondello said in a statement.
According to Newsday, Mondello has never been to the island nation, but he underwent “ambassador school” training with six other potential nominees in December. The report also said that Mondello was familiar with Trump before he ran for president and that Trump once hired Mondello to work on a development.
He will be leaving his position as county GOP chair, which he has held since 1983.
Mondello endorsed Trump in March 2016, ahead of New York’s primary, calling him “the leader our nation needs at this critical time in history.” As previously reported by Blank Slate Media, many of Mondello’s Long Island GOP colleagues did not make an endorsement.
“I look forward to the upcoming United State Senate confirmation process and then to meeting the many challenges that I am sure I will face as I enter this new and exciting chapter in my public service career,” Mondello’s statement said.
A spokesman for the Nassau GOP said Mondello did not want to speak about the ambassadorship until after his confirmation.
Should he be confirmed Mondello would take over for interim ambassador John W. McIntyre, who has held the position since Trump’s inauguration.
With a population of 1.3 million, the two islands make up the second-largest English-speaking country in the Caribbean. According to the World Bank, it is one of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the region, with a GDP of $21.8 billion in 2016.
According to MIT, more than half of the country’s exports consist of oil and natural gas. According to the State Department, it also has the highest per capita rate of ISIS recruitment in the Western Hemisphere.
Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, was among the local Republicans who offered congratulations to Mondello.
“It is a great way for him to end a remarkable career,” Nicolello said. “He’s been a leader for the Republican Party for 30-something years … but putting aside politics, if it were Democrat with same accomplishments I’d feel the same way.”
In addition to working as county chairman, Mondello was the chair of the state GOP in the 2000s and served as Hempstead presiding supervisor during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
A spokesman for the Nassau GOP said that no determination had been made as to who would replace Mondello as chairman. He said that it could take a few months before Mondello is confirmed and leaves Nassau.
Nicolello also said he was unsure who would take over as chairman.
“I am on the Nassau GOP committee, so in terms of making a decision, I’ll be involved,” he said. “But I won’t know until we get closer to that time.”
According to a source, Newsday reported, the presumed favorite is Joseph Cairo, who has worked with many local candidates and is considered Mondello’s top lieutenant.