Riverhead Democrat Phil Cardinale ‘interested’ in Assembly seat; Gabrielsen out
Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen — who on Friday expressed interest in running for the state Assembly seat recently vacated by Dan Losquadro — said Monday that he has decided not to run.
Meanwhile, former Riverhead supervisor Phil Cardinale, a Democrat, said he has interest in running for the post.
But Mr. Cardinale plans to wait until the governor decides if there will be a special election before making any decision, he told the News-Review Monday.
“I have some interest in state office,” said Mr. Cardinale, a real estate attorney who lives in Jamesport. “I’m going to consider whether I have enough interest to throw my hat into the ring by talking with town leaders and others, but I haven’t done so yet.”
So far, it’s not known if Governor Andrew Cuomo will declare a special election to fill the Assembly seat or leave the seat open until the November general elections.
A spokesperson for the governor has yet to return a call from the News-Review on that question.
“There may be no special election,” Mr. Cardinale said. “Once it is clear if there will be a special election, I will make a decision. However, if the governor decided to wait until November, I will have time to consider my options.
“I don’t know if I have enough interest, and you need to have great interest to toss your hat into the rink.”
Mr. Cardinale, who served three two-year terms as Riverhead supervisor from 2004 to 2009, said he still has about $20,000 in unspent campaigns funds left over from his last race for town supervisor in 2009.
The Suffolk County Board of Elections indicates he had exactly $18,524 as of January.
Mr. Cardinale says that’s still not enough for an Assembly run, and he would also want to be sure if he has solid financial and party backing.
“I would want considerably more in that the bank than that,” he said of the figures.
The former town supervisor said he is intrigued by the possibility of state office, because there are certain issues, like pension reform for government employees and mandate relief, where a state official can be more effective than a town official.
He also believes a Democratic Assembly member can work effectively with the Democratic governor and Democratically controlled Assembly.
The enrollment breakdown in the first Assembly District is just about even between Republicans and Democrats, he said.
Board of Elections statistics from November show 29,762 registered Republicans, 28,273 registered Democrats and 24,643 blanks (not registered with a party) in the district.
“On the other hand, I’m enjoying life,” Mr. Cardinale said. “I know first hand that when you’re in office, you’re on duty all the time. You really are a servant of the people.”
As for Mr. Gabrielsen, the councilman said he “went over the whole thing” in his head over the weekend.
“The bottom line is, I just got elected and I’ve still got almost three years to serve in this term,” Mr. Gabrielsen said. “I have an obligation to the taxpayers. They elected me to serve four years. I feel I’ve got to do the job I was elected to do.”
He said he will not screen for the Assembly nomination, as he believes the Enterprise Park at Calverton subdivision is so close to completion, and he wants to remain on the Town Board to see that process through.
“There’s still unfinished business I feel has to be done,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.