Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly endorsed Republican Assembly candidate Mike Lawler on Thursday, saying both agree on that the issues of "criminal justice and safety concerns need addressing."

Lawler, the deputy town supervisor in Orangetown, is running for the seat held by Democrat Ellen Jaffee. 

Kelly's endorsement message pointed to the ongoing debate over criminal justice law changes including alterations to the state's cash bail law. Democrats in the Legislature made changes to the bail law this year after an outcry from Republicans and law enforement officials. 

"Change will come but common sense must be part of the equation," Kelly said in a statement. "Mike Lawler has used that kind of common sense in his years working in government and in state party politics. Mike Lawler has the experience, the intelligence, and the energy. That is why we need him in the Assembly in Albany."

Kelly does not normally endorse in political races, making the nod for Lawler a rare one.

"I'm honored to have the endorsement of Commissioner Kelly," Lawler said. "There is no one who exemplifies what it means to be a public servant and a New Yorker more than Ray Kelly. Under his leadership, New York City became the safest big city in America, with crime and shootings, and murders brought down to historic lows. Sadly, many of those gains are being lost because of the reckless policies being passed in Albany and New York City by weak-kneed politicians caving to the demands of activists, all in the name of 'reform'."