Ackerman decides to call it quits
by Shane Miller
Mar 21, 2012 | 779 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The race is on to replace retiring Congressman Gary Ackerman, and three Democratic candidates have already thrown their hat into the ring, but only one has the backing of the Queens County Democratic Party.

Ackerman’s district was essentially drawn out of existence due to new Congressional lines based on the 2010 Census data. A new district – the 6th Congressional District (NY06) was created.

Rather than run again, Ackerman, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 1983, last week announced he would step down.

His decision created a flurry of rumors in political circles about who would replace the long-serving representative, including names like State Senator Tony Avella and longtime Ackerman aide Kevin Kim.

So far, three Democrats have announced their campaigns: Assemblywoman Grace Meng, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.

On Monday morning at party headquarters, the Queens Democratic Party announced that it was supporting Meng.

“Thank you for the advice that encouraged me during this important process,” Meng told her fellow elected officials and other high-ranking members of the Democratic Party Monday morning. “Thank you for the trust, confidence and faith you place in me with this nomination to be the next congresswoman from Queens.”

Usually, an endorsement from the county heads would be enough to prevent others from running in a primary, but not so in this case. Both Lancman and Crowley - who is the cousin of Queens County Democratic Party chairman, Congressman Joseph Crowley - announced intentions to run for the post Monday afternoon.

“Born and raised in Queens, Elizabeth Crowley is running for Congress as an independent advocate for our neighborhoods and our communities,” said campaign spokesperson Eric Yun. “While the county organization as a whole may not want to endorse a family member of its chairman, Elizabeth Crowley’s campaign will demonstrate that she is the best candidate to represent all of the communities in the new congressional district.”

That new district is almost an Asian minority-majority district. According to the latest Census data, the district is about 39 percent white and 39 percent Asian, give or take a few-tenths of a percentage point.

This could give Meng an advantage if Crowley and Lancman were to split the white vote, although the Census data doesn’t take into account registered voters, or those who actually go to the polls.

Lancman has been adamant about his intent to run for Congress recently. He originally announced that he would challenge current Republican Congressman Bob Turner, who won election to the seat Anthony Weiner vacated.

But when the new district lines began to be made public, Turner decided instead to challenge New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Lancman then turned his attention to the new NY06.

Last week, Lancman issued a statement saying that he was unwilling to run against the long-serving Ackerman in a primary and he was intent on staying in the Assembly.

A few hours later, Ackerman announced his retirement. On Monday, Lancman announced he was running for the open seat in a press conference at the intersection of 170th Street and Northern Boulevard.

He said his campaign would focus on bread-and-butter economic issues like jobs, fairness in the tax code, and economic inequality.

"Every day, I meet New Yorkers who are tired of an economic deck that is stacked against them, and tired of a Congress that isn't doing anything about it," Lancman said. "I'm running for Congress because middle-class and working people in Queens need someone who will fight for them."

With Meng's endorsement from the Queens County Democratic Party, however, Lancman could have an uphill climb. Shortly after his announcement, Councilman James Gennaro, whose district overlaps Lancman’s Assembly district, endorsed the party favorite.

“Grace has terrific support in the community and the universal admiration of her colleagues for good reason – she is deeply committed, incredibly effective, and a joy to work with,” Gennaro said in a statement.

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