It is official: Kevan Abrahams, the Freeport Democrat who leads his party’s caucus in the Nassau County Legislature, is running for Congress.
Abrahams began testing the waters in the 4th Congressional District race earlier this year, including registering a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 24 and holding a campaign fundraiser five days later at the Carltun in Eisenhower Park. But it was not until last Wednesday that Abrahams publicly acknowledged that he is running, telling reporters before then that he was in “exploratory mode.”
The Legislature’s minority leader made the announcement in a campaign email and media interviews last Wednesday. He faces a tough primary race against Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, of Garden City, the only Democrat who currently holds countywide office. Rice has received the backing of national Democrats, including Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, the congressional seat’s current incumbent. McCarthy announced in January that she would not seek re-election in November, citing her health as a main reason for her retirement. McCarthy disclosed a lung cancer diagnosis last June.
Abrahams, however, expressed confidence that he can raise the funds necessary to run a competitive campaign. Jay Jacobs, the Nassau County Democratic Committee chairman, has so far declined to weigh in on the brewing primary battle.
“As both candidates have deep roots in the County Committee and both are long-serving public officials who have run on our party’s line multiple times, I have decided not to take a position in this race,” he wrote in a statement.
The campaign email said Abrahams aims to “push a progressive agenda” in Washington, including “raising the federal minimum wage, rebuilding our infrastructure and reimagining this region for future generations.” In an interview, Abrahams spoke too of a desire to tackle other issues that are important to progressives, like income inequality, gender wage gap and immigration reform. But he also condemned high property taxes in Nassau County as the cause of much hardship.