Former state Sen. and Mineola Mayor Jack Martins is eyeing a return to the Senate as the Nassau County Republican Party endorsed him to run against Democratic incumbent Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) to represent the state’s 7th Senate District on Friday.
Martins, an Old Westbury resident who previously represented the 7th District from 2011-2016, started off his introductory speech at the GOP’s Westbury headquarters by saying, “It’s great to be back” and addressed the questions he has received from others asking why he is choosing to run again.
“When I left the Senate six years ago, we had compromise, we had balance, the suburbs had a voice,” Martins said. “Nassau County had a voice because there were people who were willing to fight for Nassau County families and make sure the… quality of life we want for ourselves, for our families, is alive and well.”
Martins, who served as Mineola’s mayor from 2003-2010. In that time, Martins previously said, he restructured the village’s finances, debt and property tax assessment system, and improved government transparency by broadcasting meetings on TV and publishing information online. In 2008, Martins ran an unsuccessful congressional campaign against former U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy before defeating incumbent 7th District Senator and Democrat Craig Johnson in 2010.
The race against Johnson was one that did not get resolved until early December due to Johnson demanding a recount of the votes, ultimately having his appeal denied by the state’s Court of Appeals.
After another failed attempt to get into Congress in 2016, losing to U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Martins shifted his focus to becoming Nassau County’s new county executive, following former County Executive Edward Mangano being indicted on federal corruption charges.
Martins ultimately lost that race to Democrat Laura Curran, who served as county executive before being defeated by Republican Bruce Blakeman this past fall.
Martins, on Friday, spoke on some of the changes that have occurred throughout the state, including bail reform laws, he is looking to rectify, if elected. Martins also expressed he is “tired” of having prominent state government officials coming from the same political party.
“When politicians in Albany put criminals ahead of our communities, it’s time to go back and make a difference,” Martins said. “We’re going up to Albany, we’re going to take these seats, we’re going to take back the majority in the Senate, we’re going to restore sanity, we’re going to repeal bail reform, we’re going to cut taxes, we’re going to cut the gas tax and we’re going to make sure Nassau County families, businesses… our children have a voice in this state.”
Blakeman, on Friday, touted Martins’ professional and previous political accomplishments, including his “strong drive towards public service.”
“He’s always been there, whether it was [when he was] the mayor of Mineola or state senator and he’s somebody that is articulate, he knows the issues and he’s very hard-working,” Blakeman said. “He’s going to take back that… seat we desperately need back in order to get a majority in the state Senate.”
Sean Ross Collins-Sweeney, a spokesperson for Kaplan’s campaign, criticized Martins for his previous political affiliations and hopes to have a race that prioritizes the issues facing the 7th Senate District.
“During his time in the Senate, Jack Martins aligned himself with the most extreme elements of his party, refusing to protect a woman’s right to choose, voting against marriage equality, and defending his corrupt, criminal leader, Dean Skelos,” Collins-Sweeney said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “In his last campaign, he proudly fanned the flames of division by sending out a profoundly offensive, racist mailer that the New York Times described as ‘out of the dirty-tricks playbook, updated for the Trump era.’ We are hopeful that this time around he will leave his racist dog-whistle at the door so that we can have a spirited campaign on the issues that matter to this community.”
Other Democrats previously criticized Martins for defending Skelos, the former state Senate majority leader from Rockville Centre who was convicted of federal corruption crimes in 2015.
Immediately following Skelos’ indictment, Martins said Skelos should be allowed to keep his leadership post. Skelos stepped down a week later. When Martins was running for county executive in 2017, he expressed some regret that Skelos was not removed from his leadership post sooner.
“Should it have been done more quickly? Probably, in retrospect, and frankly you learn your lessons as you move forward,” Martins said in a 2017 press conference.
The 7th Senate district includes Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Williston Park, Mineola, Garden City Park, North Hills, Albertson, Old Westbury, East Hills, Roslyn, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn Estates, Albertson, Searingtown, Lake Success, Manhasset, Munsey Park, Plandome, Plandome Heights, Plandome Manor, and the Great Neck and Port Washington peninsulas.