Jack Martins, a former Republican New York State senator, announced Wednesday his plans to run for Nassau County executive while the indicted GOP incumbent hasn’t said if he’ll seek a third term.
Current Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges last fall, joined two of the three Democrats running for his job in criticizing Martins, although Mangano’s spokesman again ignored questions about whether he would run for re-election.
“Today I stand before you as I launch my campaign, formally, for county executive of Nassau County,” Martins told reporters during a rainy news conference outside Mineola Village Hall, where he previously served as mayor. “The challenges in Nassau County are just that, they are challenges, but they’re not insurmountable.”
He spoke of restoring the county’s reputation, recalling its role in World War II and legacy aiding manned missions to the moon.
“Our county was the preeminent county in the entire country,” Martins said, vowing to tackle public corruption. “We must ensure that that public trust is restored and renewed.”
Several dozen supporters were on hand for his announcement.
Martins served three terms as a state senator representing western Nassau County until last year, when instead of running for re-election, he ran for a vacant congressional seat, but lost to now-freshman U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), a former Nassau executive.
After Newsday reported Tuesday that the Nassau Republican Committee plans to nominate Martins, most of the candidates for county executive were quick to pounce on him. The Nassau GOP did not return a call for comment.
“I have no comment on this election season nonsense other than to wonder how Jack Martins will explain his support of an indicted Albany colleague and his failure to support tax assessment reform when he had the authority to correct it,” Mangano said, referring to disgraced state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who is appealing his conviction for his role in a Nassau contract rigging scheme.
Nassau County Legis. Laura Curran, the Democratic nominee in the county executive’s race, lumped Martins in with Mangano, who is accused of a bribery scheme and rebuffed calls to resign.
“There is a culture of corruption in Nassau County and the last thing we need is another career politician like Jack Martins who stood silently by, until it was politically convenient not to, as Ed Mangano sold out taxpayers,” Curran said. “As a foot soldier of the corrupt Albany establishment, Jack Martins did nothing as crooked politicians stole taxpayer money and stifled ethics reform at every turn. We need wholesale change in Nassau County and Jack Martins is just more of the same.”
New York State Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), who challenged Curran to a Democratic primary in September, also jumped into the fray.
“That last thing Nassau County needs to do is replace corrupt County Executive Ed Mangano with Dean Skelos lapdog Jack Martins who the [New York] Daily News called part of the corruption caucus,” Lavine said.
George Maragos, the county comptroller who switched parties from Republican to Democrat last year and also challenged Curran to a primary, did not respond to a request for comment on Martins’ announcement.
Martins’ campaign spokesperson E. O’Brien Murray shot back at the critics.
“Jack Martins stood up for honesty and integrity in county government and called on the county executive to resign 188 days ago,” Murray said. “It’s the height of hypocrisy for Legislator Curran and Assemblyman Lavine to play politics with this issue now, particularly when Legislator Curran has failed to say a word about corruption in either party and Assemblyman Lavine sat idly by as the Assembly Ethics Chairman when there were sexual harassment scandals, cover-ups and bribery in that chamber.”
Curran’s spokesman, Philip Shulman, returned fire.
“This is typical double speak from a typical career politician,” Shulman said. “State Senator Jack Martins is woefully uninformed about county issues if he doesn’t know that Laura Curran and her colleagues have filed numerous reform measures that the legislative Republicans refuse to bring to a vote, and Curran has already rolled out five sets of specific reform proposals that she will enact as County Executive. As for State Senator Martins calling on the current County Executive to resign, that’s not surprising since he clearly wants the job.”
Lavine’s camp also responded to Martins’ statement.
“Re-stacking the deck will not fundamentally change county government to make it work for the people of Nassau,” Lavine’s spokesman said. “Jack Martins offers nothing more than we already have. Nassau county families deserve better.”
Featured Photo: Former New York State Sen. Jack Martins announces his run for Nassau County Executive outside Mineola Village Hall on April 26, 2017. (Long Island Press / Rashed Mian)
-With additional reporting by Rashed Mian