Democrat Madeline Singas, considered the underdog in a race with far-reaching implications, declared victory over Kate Murray, her well-connected Republican challenger, in the hotly contested race for Nassau County District Attorney.
In what appeared to be a striking rebuke of the Republican Party machine that dominates Nassau County politics, the career prosecutor was on her way to a resounding victory over GOP stalwart Murray, who has spent more than a decade as Hempstead Town Supervisor.
Singas has served as acting Nassau DA since January, assuming the role following Kathleen Rice’s election to Congress last year when Rep. Carolyn McCarthy declined to run.
With a majority of districts reporting late in the evening, Singas was up by more than a dozen points over Murray, according to unofficial election results. She took the stage at swanky Garden City Hotel shortly after 11 p.m.
“What a great victory,” said a smiling Singas, joined on stage by her family. “I said it many times before that this election would come down to a choice…would they choose someone with the expertise and the experience, a prosecutor who could root out corruption, a prosecutor who could end the heroin scourge in our community, a prosecutor who can end violence on our streets? And today the voters responded with an overwhelming ‘yes.'”
Singas congratulated Murray on a “hard fought battle,” calling her a “public servant.” She also thanked her predecessor and her many volunteers.
“I’m also very proud of what this victory represents because this victory transcends politics,” she told the doting crowd. “This victory transcends Republican or Democrat, this victory means the voters put aside their partisan issues, the voters overwhelmingly said we’re going to put our community first.”
Murray did not concede the race until after midnight.
Kate Murray concedes defeat to Dem Madeline Singas for Nassau DA: “This is America. The people speak… I will never regret this campaign.”
— Long Island Press (@LongIslandPress) November 4, 2015
The campaign for DA was often contentious, pitting a Democrat who has spent the last 24 years of her adult life as a prosecutor against a Republican who has never prosecuted a criminal case, but touted her leadership abilities in the most populous town in the nation. The pair spent the final weeks of their campaigns questioning their opponent’s experience and dubiously forecasting what crime would be like if their contender triumphed. They argued over how best to combat the heroin epidemic and who’d be tougher on crime.
For Democrats, the DA race held extra significance because Republicans currently have a stranglehold on Nassau County politics, as they control the county executive office, legislature, and the comptroller’s office. Winning the DA contest was seen as critical for Democrats, who boast more registered voters in the county but have struggled to get their supporters to vote during off-year elections.
The race played out as observers imagined it would. Murray, according to various polls, led throughout the race but the margin narrowed dramatically in the weeks prior to the election. While Murray received endorsements from major police unions and popular Republicans like senator-turned-lobbyist Alfonse D’Amato and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Singas welcomed endorsements from The New York Times, Newsday and The New York Daily News, which slammed Murray in several scathing editorials over the past month.
Singas’ campaign characterized Murray as a prosecutorial neophyte who lacked the requisite experience necessary for such an important post. Murray’s law experience includes two separate positions as a junior lawyer at two firms and as an assistant in the state attorney general’s office prior to her election to the state Assembly in the late ‘90s, her tenure as Hempstead Town clerk and subsequently town supervisor.
Murray’s camp countered assertions that she’s inexperienced for the post by touting her record as Hempstead Town Supervisor for a dozen years. On the stump, Murray promised to tackle the heroin epidemic, which has led to an increase in overdoses, and portrayed herself as a candidate who is tough on drugs. Murray also highlighted her leadership abilities and her political prowess, the latter of which she’d use to encourage state lawmakers to pass laws that would keep the community safe.
The campaign was not without controversy.
Singas called for a special prosecutor last week when NuHealth, the corporation that oversees taxpayer-funded Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, published on its website a news release endorsing Murray for district attorney that reportedly used language taken directly from her campaign literature. Singas called on Murray to answer for her “campaign’s illegal coordination” with NuHealth, whose board member is a prominent Murray supporter, and also demanded an investigation into the legality of endorsement, which was later deleted from NuHealth’s website.
The campaign also comes amid Singas’ ongoing investigation into how Nassau approves government contracts, which was sparked by the federal probe into the alleged abuses by state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), the former state Senate majority leader who rose to power through the Nassau GOP machine. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, also subpoenaed Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano as part of the Skelos probe. Singas had promised, if elected, that she would expand her investigation into Nassau’s three towns, something she was hesitant to do during the campaign.
In her victory speech, Singas pledged to combat heroin and root out corruption.
“No one is above the law,” she said.
Post speech celebration. pic.twitter.com/NvgyOrWFxn
— Rashed Mian (@rashedmian) November 4, 2015