Four local Republican officials crossed party lines to endorse Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice for Congress on Tuesday, citing her efforts toward bipartisan public service.
“Kathleen Rice listens to her constituents, represents her entire constituency rather than just a select few,” said Thomas Tweedy, mayor of the Village of Floral Park. “She has earned our respect and support.”
Mayor Henry Schreiber of the Village of Bellerose, Mayor George Pappas of the Village of Atlantic Beach and Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) joined Tweedy in backing Rice, a Garden City resident who was elected to represent the 4th Congressional District in 2014 after serving nine years as Nassau County’s district attorney.
Rice fought to expedite approval for an emergency medical facility in Long Beach after Superstorm Sandy and “stood up to” the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get recovery funding through, Ford said. Tweedy cited Rice’s early opposition to a video casino planned for the Belmont Park racetrack, which was shelved in April after three months of community opposition.
“She is a fighter,” Ford said. “She is a tireless advocate for each and every single one of us.”
Schreiber, Pappas and Ford said they have endorsed Rice in the past, either for district attorney or in her first congressional campaign. All four officials said they had no conversation about Tuesday’s endorsement with the Nassau County Republican chairman, Joseph Mondello.
Ford was re-elected to the Legislature in 2015 as a Republican, but was endorsed by both major parties in 2013 and is registered as a Democrat.
Rice touted her work across the aisle in Washington to pass two bills in her first term, and pledged to continue working against “detrimental” partisanship and polarization in the House.
“We may belong to different parties, but we are partners in public service, and I look forward to continue working together to solve problems for the people we serve, keep our communities safe, and make sure all Long Island families have a secure future,” Rice said.
Tweedy and Rice have family connections — their grandparents knew each other and members of their family went to school together, they said. Ford also said she knew Rice’s brother.
Rice’s Republican endorsements come as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign tries to sway moderate Republicans dissatisfied with Donald Trump, the GOP’s presidential candidate.
Rice is facing Lt. Col. David Gurfein, a retired U.S. Marine from Manhasset, in the southwestern Nassau County district that stretches from Floral Park to East Meadow and from Hillside Avenue to Long Beach.
Tweedy and Schreiber said they did not know much about Gurfein and had not heard from him since his campaign started.
Gurfein said none of the officials who endorsed Rice had asked to meet with him, and noted that he’s been endorsed by Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino and Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, both Republicans.
“Unfortunately, this is indicative of the problem we have in politics right now, and this is where none of these individuals took the opportunity to even meet me or to vet me or to understand who Kathleen Rice’s opponent is,” Gurfein said.
Gurfein decided to run in the North Shore’s 3rd Congressional District last September, but then he decided to run against Rice in the 4th District after the GOP nominated state Sen. Jack Martins in the 3rd.