Charles Lavine exits Nassau executive race, backs Curran

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State Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove, at podium) announces his exit from the Nassau County executive race on Wednesday. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

State Assemblyman Charles Lavine on Wednesday ended his Nassau County executive campaign and endorsed Laura Curran in the Democratic primary for the office.

The move further consolidates the party’s support of Curran as she continues her primary campaign county Comptroller George Maragos. The winner of the September face-off will likely face former state Sen. Jack Martins, who has the backing the Nassau County Republican party, in November.

“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,” Lavine, of Glen Cove, said at a news conference in Garden City on Wednesday.

Lavine’s endorsement of Curran, a county legislator from Baldwin, came a week before the Nassau County Democratic Committee’s May 31 nominating convention and two weeks before candidates start circulating petitions to get on the ballot.

Curran and Maragos, a former Republican who switched parties last year and has now fashioned himself as an outsider, are now vying for the Democratic nomination to replace Edward Mangano, the current GOP county executive who has pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges.

Mangano has not said whether he will seek re-election.

In his 13th year as an assemblyman, Lavine entered the county executive race as an experienced reformer with a solid North Shore base.

But the county Democratic committee endorsed Curran in January. Lavine’s campaign had become quiet in recent weeks while she won endorsements from the Working Families Party and large labor unions.

That played a role in Lavine’s decision, he said, but it was largely driven by what he called a need for unity amid a political “crisis” in both the federal and Nassau County governments.

“Making sure we win in what will be a very tough election coming up against Jack Martins and the Republican machine, which is filled with this culture of corruption, it is more important that we have a united ticket and we pull it together for that purpose,” Jay Jacobs, the Nassau Democratic chairman, said Wednesday.

Curran thanked Lavine for the endorsement and said the two share a commitment to bringing good government to a county that has been rocked by corruption scandals in the past two years.

“I know that united, we will bring what it takes to win in November and make the government work for the people and give Nassau the fresh start that we deserve,” Curran said.

While Lavine’s endorsement is a boon to her campaign, Curran faces an unrelenting opponent in Maragos, a self-styled “independent Democrat” running in opposition to the dominance of what he calls “party bosses.”

In a statement posted to Facebook Wednesday night, Maragos said Lavine’s exit from the race is “characteristic of the back room dealing” by Jacobs to stack the deck in favor of Curran, “his unqualified hand picked candidate.”

“My decision to stay in the race and fight to end the pervasive corruption, and patronage in Nassau County, remains unwavering,” Maragos said in the statement.

Martins used similar language, calling Lavine’s move “another backroom deal for the Democratic Party.”

“I am focused on restoring our faith in government, protecting our families, and putting Nassau County back on the right track,” Martins said in a statement.

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