Kathleen Rice, the popular Nassau County district attorney recently elected to her third term, tells NBC 4 New York that she plans to run for Congress to succeed retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy on Long Island.
Rice, 48, made the announcement in her only on-camera interview alongside McCarthy, a fellow Democrat in her ninth term.
“My campaign is going to be, to the people of this district, to show them why I am the best person to follow in Carolyn McCarthy’s footsteps,” Rice said over coffee Wednesday morning at the Harvest Diner in Westbury.
Rice, a Democrat, was elected to a third term in November with 59 percent of the vote. First elected in 2005, she has long had an outsized public image for a local politician, appearing on national television after she successfully prosecuted a drunk driver on a murder charge, and busted an SAT cheating ring. She ran an unsuccessful primary for attorney general against Eric Schneiderman in 2010 and last year led Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's anti-corruption commission.
McCarthy, who is battling lung cancer, announced recently that she would not seek re-election this November.
“I do believe she’s the best person for the job,” said McCarthy, adding that she called Rice to assess her interest soon after she decided not to seek re-election.
McCarthy was pushed into public life in 1993, after her husband was killed and her son was critically injured in a shooting on the Long Island Rail Road. After being sworn in to Congress in 1997, she became an outspoken advocate for curbing gun violence, a legacy that Rice said she intends to continue.
Along with her success, Rice has drawn jabs over the years from judges and defense lawyers about her aggressive style and headline-grabbing tendencies. Most recently, she was criticized by her own party when she did not indict Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale after he resigned amid allegations that he directed officers to arrest a witness in a politically charged election-year case.
But Rice said Wednesday that her job is to do what’s right, not what’s popular. And she said if elected, she would bring that independence with her to Congress.
Newsday has reported that several other people have also been rumored to run for McCarthy’s 4th congressional district seat, including Democrats Kevan Abrahams, minority leader of the Nassau County Legislature, Legis. Dave Denenberg of Merrick and Republican six-term Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray.