Republican congressional candidate Jack Martins will keep his pledge to vote for Donald Trump, but that’s the extent of his support.
The Old Westbury state senator will cast a ballot for the GOP presidential nominee but is not endorsing him, said E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ spokesman and senior campaign strategist.
Newsday on Thursday first reported Martins’ position on Trump in a week when some Republican lawmakers and party figures either criticized him or said they would vote for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Asked to elaborate on how voting for Trump is different from endorsing him, Murray said, “The [Newsday] story speaks for itself.”
Martins is running to replace Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) in the North Shore’s 3rd Congressional District against Democrat Tom Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive.
Long Island’s Republican congressmen, Lee Zeldin of Shirley and Peter King of Seaford, have endorsed Trump, a Queens native and New York-based billionaire real estate developer.
The Nassau and Suffolk county GOP chairmen, Joseph Mondello and John LaValle, have also thrown their support behind Trump.
He appeared at a $5,000-a-plate Suffolk GOP fundraiser in Nissequogue on Monday, Newsday reported.
In May, after Trump was the only remaining Republican candidate, Martins said he would vote for Trump if he indeed became the party’s nominee.
“It’s either support him, or support either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, so the choice is not between Donald Trump and somebody else,” he said in May.
Endorsing a candidate “connotes a kind of teamwork” a pledge to vote does not, said Meena Bose of Port Washington, a Hofstra University political science professor specializing in presidential politics.
When it comes to Trump, Bose said, “I think there’s a sense of party loyalty that is kind of at odds with certain candidates’ views of the presidential ticket, so it seems to be a very delicate balancing act.”
Some Republican leaders dissatisfied with Trump are advising congressional candidates to keep some distance between their campaigns and the national campaign, Bose said.
Trump has drawn fire from Republican and Democratic figures for criticizing Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim who was killed in Iraq.
Trump has also proposed banning the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims from entering the U.S. as an antiterrorism measure.
Meg Whitman, a Hewlett-Packard executive and prominent Republican fundraiser, and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-New York) are among the GOP figures who have said they will vote for Clinton.
Addressing the Democratic National Convention last month, Khizr Khan said Trump has “sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Trump responded by telling ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he has “made plenty of sacrifices” and telling the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd he would have liked to hear Ghazala Khan speak, suggesting her Muslim faith did not allow her to.
In an LI News Radio interview with Jay Oliver on Wednesday, Martins said he wants to see both presidential candidates “put the nonsense aside” and focus on substantive issues such as national security and the economy.
“Whether it’s Trump and the issues that he’s dealing with right now, he has to be frank and honest and, frankly, apologize’’ to the Khans, he said. “But I think by the same measure, Hillary Clinton has to do the same thing, be frank and honest with the American public so we can move on and deal with the real issues affecting our homes, our families and our communities.”