Suffolk Comptroller Kennedy joins county executive race

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HAUPPAUGE -

Suffolk Comptroller John Kennedy was surrounded by some of Long Island's biggest Republican political heavyweights Monday as he announced a run for county executive.

Kennedy, known for his fiery tone, blamed Democratic incumbent Steve Bellone for a downgrade in Suffolk's bond rating and for hiking county fees.

"I would point out to you the Steve Bellone report card," Kennedy said. "The only thing missing on this on the bottom is a big, fat, red 'F.'"

Bellone, who's seeking a third term in November, responded by saying: "There will be plenty of time to have a debate about the issues, and I will be very proud to talk about the record that we have of protecting taxpayers in Suffolk County."

Kennedy is not the only Republican looking to move into the 12th-floor offices of the county executive at the Dennison Building in Hauppauge. County Legislator Rob Trotta announced a run, and Larry Zacarese, who ran for Suffolk sheriff a couple of years ago, has also hinted at a run. But Zacarese was in attendance at Kennedy's rally, saying a primary challenge against Kennedy was "certainly not at the top of my agenda."

Rick Brand, who's been covering Suffolk politics for Newsday for more than 40 years, says Kennedy would be considered the underdog against Bellone.

"Although Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats now, in off-year elections, Republicans often turn out in better numbers.," Brand said.

Kennedy said his message that the county needs to spend less money resonates with taxpayers.

Suffolk Legislator Rob Trotta said he "welcomes" Kennedy into the race but did not say whether he would follow through on a primary race against the new challenger.

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