Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who is running for Congress in a crowded race, nabbed the endorsement today of four pols who hope to be the next mayor of New York City.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and former comptroller Bill Thompson stood on the steps of City Hall under the hot sun this afternoon to endorse Meng, who is the candidate of choice of the Queens Democratic Party and who would be New York’s first Asian-American member of Congress if elected.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, another mayoral hopeful, was notably absent.
The announcement will likely be an important boost for Meng, who dealt with accusations last week that the Queens Dems — and possibly her campaign indirectly — had purposely tried to split the Jewish vote by planting a fresh Jewish candidate into the race, which would in theory hurt one of her main opponents, Assemblyman Rory Lancman (there’s also City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Jeff Gottlieb, a Board of Elections employee at the center of the Queens Dems’ controversy, and as of today, this guy, maybe). The Democratic Primary — for the seat held by longtime Congressman Gary Ackerman — is on June 26th.
By bringing these four mayoral hopefuls together, the announcement at City Hall today also seemed to serve as a basic acknowledgement that these pols are in fact going to make bids to replace Mayor Mike Bloomberg in 2013 (Thompson, who ran against Bloomberg in 2009, has made his campaign official. The others haven’t officially announced, and embattled Comptroller John Liu has been especially ambiguous).
The lack of official announcements did not stop City Councilman Mark Weprin — who was at one point considered a possible candidate to replace Ackerman — from calling the bunch “mayoral candidates.” After all, what reason would these four folks have for coming together under one big endorsement?
Weprin, who was emceeing the news conference today, said, “I’m thrilled to be here with Grace, who has just been a terrific Assembly member…She is impossible not to like and proof of that is who’s standing behind me here today.”
“Are you saying we never like anybody, the four of us?” Quinn interjected.
“To get all of them to agree, to get all of the mayoral candidates to agree on a candidate is unusual at this juncture in time — all who have worked together, all wonderful human beings, I might add,” he said.
Weprin quickly faced the awkward task of choosing the first speaker: “I just haven’t decided, now who do I call on first? This is bad” (the Voice chose to just list them in alphabetical order. Fair?).
He said, “We’re starting regionally here,” before introducing Comptroller Liu, who of course called his fellow endorsers government “colleagues,” not “candidates.”
“I am proud to stand with all my colleagues in government in support of Grace Meng for Congress,” Liu began. “She’s been a passionate legislator, she’s been a fierce community activist, and all the while, being a mom of two young kids. That is no small feat…I know that in the years ahead our community’s going to need a strong voice in Washington.”
The mayoral candidates, and Meng herself, emphasized the importance of increasing the number of women in Congress, and having stronger voice’s for women’s issues — like equal pay — among other qualifications.
“Whether it’s fighting for marriage equality, fighting to increase the minimum wage…she is somebody who has demonstrated time and again that she has important democratic values,” said Quinn, adding that Meng has been very successful at bringing different people together. “If there is one legislative body in the country, probably more than any other, that needs that skill, that needs that grace — pun intended — needs that likability, it is Congress.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, towering above all others as usual, emphasized Meng’s ability to balance her family and the job — and jumped on the grace-pun train. “We saw her with her children, we saw her juggling a lot of different things at once and doing it with tremendous passion and grace, and that struck me,” he said, referring to a conference a few years ago. “Grace is going to understand the needs of the people…As a parent, she will understand what every parent goes through…As someone who understands the immigrant experience, she is going to fight for immigrants in her district everyday.”
He added, “I just want to say, this is an endorsement I feel great about.”
Thompson didn’t shy away from acknowledging that the four of them have different political views: “You know it may not be easy to get all of us to agree on one thing…[but that means] that Grace is the best person to be the next Congressional representative of the 6th district in Queens.” He also referenced his mayoral run in 2009, saying that he remembers Meng, who was pregnant at the time, still running around and working tirelessly. “I used to tell Grace, ‘Take it easy,’ but she didn’t, because the type of person she is is a person who gives everything, who gives all her energy, all of her focus to the people of her district.”
Shockingly, Meng said she was happy to receive these endorsements: “I’m so proud today to stand here today and accept the endorsements of these wonderful citywide leaders…To have their support and their endorsement means the world to me. They, in each of their own right, have brought forth a vision for New York City, and they have made it possible for working families to have a better quality of life.”
Before the news conference, a spokesperson for Meng’s campaign said that Scott Stringer was absent because of a scheduling issues. There doesn’t seem to be any logical reason why the borough president wouldn’t endorse her, and the two even partnered together for a press conference earlier this month in Queens to release an immigrants rights and services manual in Korean. Still, it seems odd that a quote from Stringer wouldn’t be included in the press release if he was planning to endorse her.
We reached out to Stringer’s office after the event. We’ll update if we hear back.
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