Bruce Blakeman, an attorney and former Nassau County, N.Y., official, plans to launch a bid for Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-N.Y.) seat on Thursday.
His entry into the race gives Republicans a prominent self-funder to compete for the seat, which leans Democratic but became an opportunity for Republicans with McCarthy’s retirement announcement earlier this year.
Blakeman said he’s running for Congress because he believes “the country is on the wrong track,” citing ObamaCare in particular.
“What does it say about ObamaCare if millions of people would rather quit work than pay for healthcare?” he said of the law, a reference to a recent Congressional Budget Office report that the economy will lose millions of workers by 2021 as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans say is evidence the law amounts to another entitlement program.
“If [Democrats] can’t even solve the rollout, if they can’t even do that right, how are they going to provide healthcare to people? It’s a disaster that should be changed immediately,” Blakeman said.
Blakeman previously served on the Port Authority Board of Commissioners and the Hempstead Town Board, and has been majority leader of the Nassau County Legislature.
He’s had numerous unsuccessful statewide bids, for comptroller in 1998 and for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2010. But Blakeman said those previous bids shouldn’t be read as an indication of his current potential, and that he saw the 4th District as a “fair fight seat.”
“I’ve been very successful in this county. When you run for statewide office in a blue state, a very, very blue state, probably one of the most blue states in the nation, it’s very difficult for a Republican to win,” he said.
He said he’ll invest some of his own money into the race, but wouldn’t indicate how much. Blakeman is also planning a trip to Washington, D.C., over the next two weeks and hopes to sit down with the National Republican Congressional Committee to discuss his candidacy.
Blakeman said many of his friends and business associates had reached out to offer support, financial or otherwise, and that he expects to have all the resources he needs to run a strong race.
“I’m a seasoned campaigner, a hard worker. I’m well-financed, and I have a network of volunteers that I think approach the size of a small army,” he said.
His brother could come to his aid as well.
Brad Blakeman formerly served on former President George W. Bush’s senior staff and helped launch the conservative advocacy group Freedom’s Watch. On Wednesday, he sent out an email to associates and friends letting them know his brother's running.
Democrats are expected to nominate nationally known District Attorney Kathleen Rice for the seat, a top contender who will make it a tough seat for Republicans to win.
Nassau County Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams is also exploring a bid.
But Blakeman said his argument against either Democrat would be the same, citing the potential support they’d give to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Speaker if Democrats win back the House, an unlikely prospect this cycle.
“Both Democrats support ObamaCare and both Democrats’ first vote when they get to Congress will be for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker,” he said.