It’s endorsement season in the crowded race to replace longtime Congressman Gary Ackerman — who surprised folks last month with the announcement that he would be retiring.
You sometimes wonder how much these endorsements really matter — but at least they offer us some insight into the kinds of demographics competing campaigns think they can attract and what credentials for the job they are trying to promote.
This afternoon, we have for you news of endorsements for Assemblywoman Grace Meng, the candidate of choice for the Queens Democratic Party, and her competition City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.
This race is worth following for a few reasons. First, Meng — who told the Voice earlier this week that this is a historic campaign that people across the country have their eyes on — would be New York’s first Asian-American member of Congress. It’s also a fun one because Meng’s competition is Liz Crowley, who is the cousin of Congressman Joseph Crowley, the chairman of the Queens Dems, who in fact endorsed Meng and not the candidate he is related to. Add Assemblyman Rory Lancman to the picture, who got former mayor Ed Koch’s endorsement this week, and you’ve got three Queens Dems vying for the same seat. (Plus, we’ve got Republican Councilman Dan Halloran, who is the most recent to launch his campaign).
Anyway, Meng’s team today sent out news that the Asssemblywoman has the support of Latino community leaders, followed by an announcement from Crowley’s team that she has scored the endorsement of the NYPD Captains’ Union.
Former Bronx Borough president Fernando Ferrer, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez , Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, Senator Jose Peralta, and Assemblyman Francisco are all supporting Meng, her campaign announced.
Why? According to the release, for “Diversity & Excellence for 6th District; Importance of Electing a Woman Stressed.” The Daily News notes that this release is perhaps a bit contrary to some of Meng’s statements that she doesn’t want the fact that she’s an Asian-American to dominate the conversation. (Some think she’s even downplaying it by purposefully leaving off her last name in campaign materials).
When we asked Meng about momentum building for her campaign, she emphasized her role as a woman, given the fact that only 17% of Congress is currently female.
“I am so very grateful for the support of these dedicated and effective community leaders. Our neighborhoods’ shared priorities present the 6th district with as much in common as it is diverse,” Meng said in a statement. (Read below for the statements of support from the Latino pols, which emphasize the importance of diversity).
Through the endorsement of the Captains Endowment Association, Liz Crowley’s team is emphasizing her record on public safety initiatives. The release sent out notes that she was a strong supporter of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health bill and that she protested the city’s “attack against police officers’ pensions when Mayor Bloomberg threatened to eliminate the Variable Supplement Fund last year.”
“The NYPD has shown time and again that they are up to the task of protecting the City,” Crowley said in a statement. “Police officers risk their lives every day to protect New Yorkers, and they need someone in Washington who will demand they receive funding and equipment necessary to keep New York protected. I am honored that the NYPD Captains Endowment Association believes I am best suited to go to Congress and fight for our police officers.”
This week, Meng pushed ahead in fundraising, announcing that she’s raised $300,000 in ten days, while Crowley has raised more than $100,000 — and some of that came from refunded City Council campaign donations.
Full statements from Meng’s Latino supporters:
“New York City has always been on the forefront of progressive leadership in this nation. I’ve been proud to be on the cutting edge of this leadership, whether at the Drum Major Institute or as Bronx Borough President. I am so pleased to endorse Grace Meng for Congress because Grace will fight for hard-working Queens residents while ensuring New York remains a progressive leader in this country. The Latino community could not have a better advocate in Washington than Grace.”
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez:
“As the first and only Latina Member of Congress from New York, I know what it takes to stand up for my community and represent the rich diversity of working families in our City. And that’s why I know that Grace Meng will bring a strong, historic voice to Congress that will stand up for middle class Queens residents from all walks of life. Grace will be a progressive contrast to the Tea-Party Republicans who want to turn back the clock on the past fifty years for women’s rights and protections for the middle class, and I can’t wait to have Grace Meng standing by my side in Congress.”
Council Member Julissa Ferreras:
“As a woman who made history in Queens as the first Latina elected to the City Council from the borough, I am proud to support my colleague Grace Meng. “By electing her to Congress, Queens will send a clear message to the nation that we support a strong leader who is a fierce defender of the middle class and a champion for women. She represents the future of Queens”
State Senator Jose Peralta:
“With Republicans determined to undermine health care reform, Social Security and Medicare, we need a champion for the middle class in Washington fighting for working families and our seniors. We need someone who supports smart immigration reform, including the Dream Act. We need someone like Grace Meng. Grace Meng is the best choice for New York’s diverse Sixth Congressional District.”
Assemblyman Francisco Moya:
“Queens has been a beacon welcoming newcomers from across the world with the promise of an American dream that is equally valid for both longtime residents and immigrants. As a fellow American-born child of immigrants, I am proud to endorse Grace Meng for Congress. I know Grace will give voice to the voiceless among us who are invisible to radical Republicans in Washington. Most importantly, Latinos will recognize Grace as the best choice for this diverse district because she knows that the battle to live the American dream has no ethnic or racial barriers.”